Because preterm infacts (preemies) are born under-developed, their autonomic nervous system (ANS) is immature. The ANS controls stress response and recovery, so having under-developed autonomic nervous systems means even a diaper change can be stressful for preemies. But according to a study published recently in Early Human Development, massage therapy may reduce stress in preterm infants by promoting ANS development.
Massage therapy has been shown to reduce stress in preterm infants who often spend their first weeks out of the womb in a stressful environment (around large, noisy hospital equipment and bright lights).
It really is amazing how powerful and comforting human touch can be. And there seems to be an ever-growing amount of research to prove it. Another study recently demonstrated the connection between emotions and the sensation of touch by examining massage neurons in mice. Some nerve fibers can detect stroking with moderate pressure, sending a feel-good message to the brain.
But you probably don't need clinical research to know how comforting touch can be. If you've ever squeezed someone's hand while receiving a shot at the doctor's office or rubbed a friend's back in a moment of grief--if you've ever reached for the hand of a loved one for reassurance, you know firsthand how much touch can calm nerves and provide emotional comfort.
The power of touch is just one of the reasons massage is so special. Not only do studies show that massage can decrease pain, but it also can be a powerful anxiety reducer, providing both physical and emotional relief.
Original Post by Kelly Shetron for Massage Williamsburg