by Carl Johns, LMT, Director, ASIS Massage Education – Flagstaff
The benefits of touch are well documented in our scientific, medical and psychological literature. In the early 20th century, when 90% of children in orphanages were dying or having major developmental problems, the introduction of nurturing touch turned that statistic completely around.
From birth, throughout life and into old age, touch is an extremely important and under-appreciated aspect of health.
In our culture, women are more open to touch. Women are nurturers for their children and for the people around them. They are more comfortable touching each other, more comfortable with a hug. They also are more comfortable with receiving massage and have typically comprised the majority of massage clientele.
Men are learning through different cultural messages that touching is not masculine and is more restricted to a handshake, or for a close friend, one of those awkward back-slapping hugs that demonstrate a level of discomfort with touch. They have also been, as a group, less comfortable with receiving massage therapy.
All of this could be subjected to some very deep analysis, but there is one simple solution out there for all of us — clarifying the benefits of massage.
In the best sense, in best practice of massage therapy, clients receive touch that is safe, professional, nonsexual, nurturing and therapeutic. In the world outside of the massage session, touch can be associated, to greater or lesser degrees, with violence and sexuality.
As a safe, neutral place for therapeutic touch, the massage session can offer a whole new way to experience our sense of touch: Touch that is relaxing and stress reducing, touch that offers relief from the pain of repetitive strain injury, and touch that promotes balance and health for all body systems.
The benefits are numerous, as many women have discovered. Gentlemen, it’s time to leave all of your cultural bias and preconceptions at the door. Experience the stress relieving, health giving benefits of regular professional massage therapy sessions — one of the single most effective things that men can do for their health.