Why is it that massage feels so good? What are the benefits of touch and why do so many people feel renewed, regenerated and soothed after bodywork treatments such as massage, cranial osteopathy, reflexology and lymphatic drainage? Scientists have spent decades trying to discover the secrets of why touch is so nourishing to an individual, and those at the University of San Francisco (UCSF) seem to have come up with some answers.
The Secrets of Touch
Believe it or not, if you stroke the soft body of a newborn fruit fly larva ever so gently with a freshly plucked eyelash, it will respond to the tickle by altering its movement. This minute observation has helped scientists at the UCSF uncover the molecule responsible for sensing gentle touch. We know that our ability to sense gentle touch develops early on, even before we are born, which is why new born babies find gentle massage and stroking so soothing and relaxing. This ability to sense gentle touch pervades throughout our lives, and until now scientists have not known exactly how humans and other organisms perceive such sensations.
In an article published recently in the journal Nature, the UCSF team has identified the exact subset of nerve cells which are responsible for communicating gentle touch to the brains of Drosophila larvae — called class III neurons. They also found a protein called NOMPC, which is found at the spiky ends of the nerves and appears to be vital for sensing gentle touch in flies. This key molecule is critical, because without it, flies are insensitive to any amount of stroking or gentle touch. The researchers also discovered that if the protein molecule was inserted into neurons that cannot sense gentle touch, those neurons then gain the ability to feel this kind of sensation.
The Basis of Human Gentle Touch
This fascinating work sheds light on the poorly understood yet fundamental human sense of touch, through which we experience the world and gain pleasure and comfort. Although scientists are fairly clear that the sense of touch is controlled by peripheral nerve fibres stretching from the spine out towards nerve endings all over the body, the new finding defines the exact nerves and uncovers the identity of the NOMPC channel, one of the major molecules involved in touch.
As humans, we thrive on touch and hundreds of our clients report the benefits from touch through regular massage. Here are just a few of our therapists’ testimonials:
“I started having massages with Jackie early on in my pregnancy… the massage was different every time, tailored to what I needed at that point. Physically it helped no end to ease my back and pelvic pain, but it was also lovely to have some ‘me’ time and relax. It was such a lovely treat and I really recommend every mum indulges in this treatment, it really made a difference to my pregnancy. I am now looking forward to booking my post-natal massages!” Sian – mum to Elliot (2 1/2) and Sophia (4 weeks)
“I love a massage as Sam can take away all my tension. l always feel great after a treatment.” Mrs Kelly Symonds
“I always relax in Sam’s sensitive hands… reflexology is my happy pill!” Mrs. S
If you would like to book an appointment with our of our massage team, please call our Norwich reception on . Or you can go to our contact page. We look forward to seeing you soon!