..........

Latest Research on Touch and Health

Here are summaries of a few recent research articles in the burgeoning field of touch.

Touch helps your muscles work better

In the May, 2010 issue of Gait & Posture, French researchers published Degraded postural performance after muscle fatigue can be compensated by skin stimulation.

Here’s what they found.  If you exercise your Achilles muscles to the point of fatigue, your ability to maintain erect posture becomes impaired.  But not if the skin over your Achilles tendon is stimulated.  The nerve sensation of touch gave your body enough new information that you could compensate for the muscle fatigue and maintain postural performance longer.

More on Achilles tendon recovery.

……………………………………………….

The quantifiable, physical components of a touch signal are intertwined with the social meaning of it

When someone touches you, your brain rapidly appraises the mechanical properties of the touch – how quick it is, how firm it is, where on the skin it’s occurring, etc.  But your overall experience of being touched also depends on the social and emotional (affective) meaning that touch has.  For instance, being touched by a person who you find attractive will definitely have a different meaning than being touched by someone to whom you are indifferent.

Researchers publishing in the December 10, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that the same parts of the brain process these two different types of touch signals, each aspect influencing the other.

More on biopsychosocial models of health

……………………………………………………………….

Stimulating touch receptors actually leads to the growth of new neurons in the spinal cord.

More on the neural dynamics of the spinal cord

………………………………………………………………….

Skin has a neuroendocrine signaling function

The chemical signals from skin cells help to integrate bodily responses independently of the brain.  It’s almost as if the skin houses an intelligence of its own.

You may be aware that skin, when exposed to sunlight, is a major source of the hormone-like vitamin D.  But scientists are learning that vitamin D is only one of many endocrine signaling molecules released by skin.  The list includes melatonin, serotonin-like inflammation-regulators, steroids, and signalers that participate in the thyroid and adrenal regulating systems.

More on touch in communication and health.

…………………………………………………………………….

Share

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2010-2016 Your Body of Knowledge. Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional.