Humans are by nature social creatures. We communicate, nurture, soothe and heal each other through speech, body language and touch. We can survive without speech and limited body language abilities. However, when denied touch we do not thrive. As babies, we die. The growing body of research confirming the importance of touch is helping to propel many forms of hands-on therapies to gain mainstream recognition as valuable treatment options.
What are hands-on therapies?
Using our hands for healing is nothing new. Studies show that hugs, holding hands, a pat on the back, and simple touches amongst our friends can decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and increase endorphin levels (your feel-good hormones).
When healing is needed there are options for treatment that are non-invasive and proven to be effective. Below are some you may, or may not, have encountered.
Massage therapy: Yes, it’s the perfect way to pamper yourself. But, massage does so much more. It is used to treat specific injuries, and chronic pain. It boosts serotonin (the feel-good, anti-pain neurotransmitter) and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. More please!
Physical therapy: After an injury or illness, physical therapy can help you learn better ways to stand, walk, move, and it speeds up recovery and helps prevent re-injury. Sessions may include loosening specific joints, working the soft tissue around joints, and offering guidance about proper movement patterns. At Paspa PT, we provide high- quality care by experienced therapists who integrate patient education, manual therapy, and exercise prescription into their treatment plan. Our physical therapists have years of clinical experience in orthopedics and take continuing education courses yearly.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: An osteopathic physician (also known as a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or D.O.) relies on her hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness and injury. The D.O. moves muscles and joints with stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance.
Accupressure: Acupressure is just one of a number of Asian bodywork therapies with roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Examples of other Asian bodywork therapies are medical qigong and Tuina. Shiatsu is a Japanese form of acupressure. Acupressure practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbows or feet, or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints on the body’s meridians. Sometimes, acupressure also involves stretching or acupressure massage, as well as other methods.
Reikki: Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive.
Healing Touch: Founded by registered nurse Janet Mentgen in 1989, Healing Touch (HT) is an energy therapy in which practitioners consciously use their hands and intent to promote health and healing. HT uses only very light or near-body touch to influence the energy field that penetrates and surrounds the body.
It’s very common these days to live most of our lives in our heads due to the constant chatter of to-do lists, errands, worries, decisions and criticisms. Touch has the ability to reconnect you with your body and, in cases of injury and illness help facilitate your healing process.
Which therapy is right for you depends on a multitude of factors. When seeking a specific result, a good place to start the discussion is with your primary care doctor. If physical therapy is recommended as a component of your healing plan, Paspa Physical Therapy is an excellent place to land. We work closely with our physicians throughout a patient’s recovery process. They are periodically updated on patient’s progress through written reports and phone contact. And, we have been known to hand out encouraging hugs and celebratory pats on the back (Bonus!) – reducing anxiety, releasing that feel-good hormone and turn up the corners of our mouths.