Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2013

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education Pathology perspectives | body awareness | functional anatomy | somatic research Why Does Touch Feel Good? A Question of Basic Science By Diana L. Thompson Humans and other animals use touch to communicate, explore their environment, heal, learn, sense danger, and more. On a molecular level, it is the least understood of all the senses. While there are several types of touch-sensor neurons, it is not known how these neurons respond to force.1 Our ability to sense gentle touch is known to develop early and remain ever-present in our lives, yet, until now, scientists have not known exactly how humans and other organisms perceive such sensations.2 For the past 100 years, researchers have attempted to differentiate between neurons that sense light touch and those triggered by noxious stimuli or pain. Light touch is the sense that allows musicians to find the right notes on an instrument and practitioners to differentiate between an adhesion and healthy tissue. Applying just the right touch allows us to grasp a pen to write, cradle a teacup to drink, and rub a sore scalene muscle without causing more pain or impinging a spinal nerve. 52 massage & bodywork march/april 2013

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