In the January-February 2006 AARP magazine there’s an insightful article on touch (pp. 46ff) by Susan c. Roberts. Among Roberts’ observations:
(1) We live in a “tactophobic” culture, one of low-touching. While men in other cultures frequently greet each other with full body hugs and walk arm in arm, male-male touching is only allowed in the United States on the football field.
(2) The skin is our largest sense organ and we virtually ignore it.
(3) One medical sociologist quoted said: “When we talk about touch, we’re talking about stress reduction.”
(4) Among the suggestions—in addition to getting professional massages—for increasing touch and its many benefits: trade back rubs with a friend, massage yourself, pet a dog or a hamster, link arms with friends, dance, get a hobby that involves the sense of touch like gardening or cooking.
It’s interesting that in our textbooks and in most introductory classes—and even in our nonverbal classes (at least as I taught NVC)—we rarely make recommendations on how to best derive the benefits from touch or other nonverbal channels.