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Holding Hands Can Ease Your Pain

Holding hands with someone you love can be a powerful remedy against pain.



In a recent study done by The University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Haifa, it was discovered that holding a loved one’s hand can ease their pain. Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher at CU Boulder was inspired to do this study after noticing that holding his wife’s hand helped her pain when their child was born.

This study was done on 22 heterosexual couples where the brain waves of these couples were measured in slightly different scenarios. They started out first just in the presence of each other, then sitting together holding hands, and finally in different rooms. They then did these scenarios again but this time with heat applied to the woman to create mild pain. Even just by being in the same room, the couple’s brain waves synced, but holding hands caused the brain waves to sync the most. They also discovered that the more synchronized the couple’s brains were, the more the pain in the woman began to subside.

These results match those of similar studies, including one done at the beginning of February by Monash University. Ph.D. Student Xianwei Che and others conducted an experiment on 18 participants where they had a countdown to an electric shock. Their brain waves were measured and they afterwords had to rate their pain. Some participants were holding hands with loved ones, others with a stranger, and some weren’t holding hands at all. Those holding hands with loved ones experienced significantly less pain than the other two parties.


Caitlin Wills is a senior journalism major at the University of Colorado Boulder with a minor in creative writing. She has written for various websites including The Odyssey Online and The Tempest, and currently writes album reviews for MXDWN. After she graduates in May, she hopes to find a career in music journalism but is open to any full-time job offers. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinjherrera.

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