Simple Arm Massage to Relax

This week I will share a very simple arm massage to relax yourself when you are feeling nervous or tense using C-Tactile afferent nerves on your skin.

First I’m going to demonstrate it so you can do it and I will explain the science behind it.

You simply caress your forearm from your elbow to your wrist with the other palm slowly as you take deep breaths. Take about 4-6 seconds per stroke. Do this for 2-5 minutes. I was raising my arm to demonstrate it but you can relax your arm and do it in front of your body.

Now I’m going to explain what you’re doing.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body and because it’s exposed, it has many sensors from the nervous system to detect different things like warmth, cold, gentle touch, pain, and itch and sends the signals to the brain. And the brain sends signals to do something about it to protect yourself. Because of these functions the skin is referred to as a third brain after the gut being the second brain.

One of the sensors is C-Tactile afferents which detect a light touch and sends the signal to the brain. The C-Tactile afferents or CTs are unique because instead of receptors like other touch sensory functions, their sensory fibers wrap around the hair follicles so they can only be found where you have hair. They do not exist on non-hairy parts like palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

CT fibers will only respond to a simulation from a slow movement. Specifically, the study shows it only responds a speed of 3-10 cm per second which is 1.2-3.9 inches per second. They will not respond to any strokes that are slower or faster. Just remember 5 cm or 2 inches per second pace. Unless you have a super long forearm, it takes about 4-6 seconds. You can confirm it by measuring your forearm, or use the size of your foot which is about the same as your forearm, and divide it by the 5 cm or 2 inches.

The signals detected from the slow movement on your skin is sent to various parts of the brain such as brain stem that controls vital functions like breathing and blood pressure, hypothalamus that controls autonomic nervous system and hormones, amygdala that controls emotions, and insular cortex that links sensory experience and emotions.

This connection to emotions such as pleasant and unpleasant feelings due to the light touch is another unique aspect of CTs and they are said to be an important factor to the secretion of oxytocin also known as bonding hormone.

The good feeling that comes from stimulation of CT fibers will balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves and relieve stress. And the CT signal to the hypothalamus will also help prevent the secretion of stress hormones.

There are lots of C-Tactile fibers on your forearms. And that’s why you are still massaging your forearm this way hopefully.

In order to make this simple arm massage to work effectively, keep these 4 things in mind:
1) Pressure: It is light touch but not feather touch with fingertips. Use the entire palm to caress with some pressure like you are caressing your pet.
2) Temperature: Use a warm hand to caress over a bare skin. If your hand is cold, caress over the clothes.
3) Speed: keep it about 4-6 seconds per stroke on your forearm.
4) Direction: Follow the direction of your hair. If you do it backward you may stimulate sympathetic nervous system.

Bonus Tip #1: Don’t be too determined to relax. Just focus on the feel on your arm. When you close your eyes, you can feel more.

Bonus Tip #2: Since you are caressing already, you might as well use a lotion or oil to moisturize.

I tried this on myself in bed and I don’t remember much because I fell asleep quickly. There is no need to switch arms per session but I’m using the other arm for the new session.

It’s so easy to do this on yourself and it’s very easy to do on your loved ones too.

Thanks for watching. I’ll see you back next week. Make it a great week. Feel free to comment below and please don’t forget to subscribe and click on the notification bell.

Massage Monday #645 Simple Massage to Relax