I would like to share a little known fact about me.
In 1999, I completed my graduate thesis on a topic that was extremely interesting to me. And still is.
My two year research project at SDSU was entitled “The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Massage Therapy on Stress & Anxiety.”
Many of you probably know I have an extensive massage therapy & bodywork background. It’s part of my story. It’s part of my training. It’s part of who I am.
And it’s bodywork (specifically Rolfing/structural work) that also got me off a 9 month Vicodin habit from an old football back injury (You can read more about that story in my book or even in a recent blog post I wrote).
But that’s not specifically the purpose of today’s message.
The purpose of today’s article is to talk about the POWER OF TOUCH.
I still remember in my thesis how I cited Dr. Tiffany Field, at the Touch Research Institute in Miami, FL, talking about how infants that are coddled and touched grow physically and psychologically at a much more rapid rate. And she discussed the importance and power of touch amongst seniors also. Quite fascinating stuff.
Touch can represent many things. It can represent compassion. Care. Empathy. Love.
And under the skilled-hands of a manual therapist (massage therapist, bodyworker, chiropractor, etc.), it can mean additional things:
Relief from pain.
Improved mobility and flexibility.
Or just pure bliss.
You see, whenever you receive an exceptional therapeutic massage session, you FEEL BETTER. And when you feel better, you are a better husband or wife. Or a better son/daughter. A better boss. A better employee. Or just a better human being. Because you FEEL BETTER. This is a good thing.
But why is it that people often wait until something is wrong to “fix” the pain? Or to get rid of that bottled up stress?
Like a squirrel storing nuts for a long winter, many people often don’t take advantage of the regular benefits of therapeutic massage until they are already in pain. Or their body doesn’t feel good. Or they are extremely stressed-out.
Just like I found statistical difference of massage on stress and anxiety (physical parameters measured were blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate; psychological parameter was an “State Trait Anxiety Inventory” survey measuring state of mind before/after the 15-minute seated massage) in my study many years ago, massage has been proven to decrease blood pressure. To decrease heart rate. To decrease respiration rate. And these benefits can be traced back hundreds, if not thousands of years.
The idea is that therapeutic massage & bodywork is a preventative tool to the deleterious side-effects of stress, anxiety, the daily pressures of life, over-training, etc.
“Please come touch me.”
I remember at an IDEA World Fitness conference in July 2007, Augie Nieto up on stage sharing a few precious words. Augie was the creator and CEO of Life Fitness equipment who contracted ALS or Lou Gherig’s disease in March 2005 And he’s been courageously fighting it ever since.
And on that July morning in 2007, in a wheelchair up on stage with Peter and Kathie Davis, he made a comment that I will never forget.
Augie said, “If you see me at this conference…please, please… come TOUCH ME.”
While it took him about 3 minutes to blurt out this sentence, it was clear as day what Augie wanted.
He wanted to be touched. He wanted compassion. He wanted a pat on the back, a handshake or a hug. Ultimately, he wanted love. He wanted TOUCH.
Augie continues to fight the good fight today and battles this disease admirably today. I’m sure touch continues to play a role.
My friends, whether it’s a friendly handshake, a pat on the back, a hug, or a professional therapeutic massage session encapsulating skilled touch, let’s be aware of touch and the important role it plays every day of our lives.
And whether it’s an infant being coddled, the last days of your life, or somewhere in between, know that TOUCH plays a significant role in your overall health of body, mind, and spirit.
Over the next 30 days, I will be leading a “Power of Touch” campaign. It’s to teach you more about the power of touch on all levels. Every day for 30 straight days, my team and I will be sharing tips on the power of touch. You can see them every afternoon at 12:00 pm PST over on our Fitness Quest 10 Facebook Fan Page. And I would love your “likes”, comments/questions, and anecdotes, over there.
Additionally, I will share a few more educational and inspirational emails over the next 30 days with you specifically on the “Power of Touch.” I truly believe that “touch” can help us all be better human beings and I want to share some interesting facts and stories.
And here is your weekly ACTION STEP: Do something every day this week to include TOUCH in your life.
Maybe it’s going out of your way to “touch” a stranger by performing a great deed, providing a warm handshake, or gentle pat on the shoulder.
Or maybe it’s someone that you are close to in your life everyday that you often overlook or take for granted… Give them a caring and loving hug. An encouraging smile. Or give your spouse or loved-one an “in-home” massage.
Or maybe you receive a “professional” massage yourself or receive some much needed bodywork from the hands of a skilled therapist.
What’s it going to be?
What can you commit to? Do something everyday this week to cognitively be aware of the POWER OF TOUCH.
Until next time, keep learning… keep loving… and keep “touching.”
Much love… and much TOUCH.
P.S. I have 2 things that I WILL do this week:
1. I will positively “touch” at least 3 strangers per day by an encouraging word, a friendly smile, or extending my hand for a warm handshake as I introduce myself.
2. I will receive one 90-minute massage this week. I’m such a better husband, father, leader, trainer, and human-being when I get bodywork. #WhyWait