This Is Why ‘Kissing It Better’ Actually Works

by : Francesca Donovan on : 06 Sep 2016 12:45

Great news for overly affectionate folks – turns out kissing things better actually works.

One clever Reddit user has explained the phenomenon endorsed by mothers all over the land using actual science.


Your body can only process so much sensation at once. By touching the place that you’ve hurt, you’re basically distracting your brain from the sensation of pain by introducing pressure.

Bindweed expanded:


It’s another reason why ice packs can help with pain – not only do they reduce swelling, they introduce the cold sensation and give your brain something else to think about other than the pain.

If that wasn’t enough to blow your mind and get the cognitive juices flowing, a second Reddit science boffin ‘The_Red_Paw’ swooped in and science-topped BindweedHawkmoth.

According to Mr Paw, who claims to be an injury and sports massage expert, ‘some nerve fibres are enclosed by a myelin sheath’ that helps pressure and vibration signals move faster.


He goes on:

Pain travels on non-myelinated nerve fibers. It’s why there is a noticeable delay between stubbing your toe and feeling the surge of pain. It takes 1 or 1.5 seconds for the pain signal to travel all the way to your brain for processing.

Meanwhile pressure and vibration travel along myelinated fibers. They simply move faster.

As Bindweed has already clarified, your brain only processes so much signal at once. So you bonk your shin on the coffee table and immediately, instinctively grab or rub it you are sending pressure/vibration signals on fast nerves to get there before the slow moving pain signals do. Instead of 100% pain signal, you get a mix.

So, go forth and rub and kiss.


Science says it’s good for your health.

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Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.

Topics: Life


  1. Reddit

    ELI5: Why is it that when you get hit (I.e. bang your head on a corner) you instinctively apply pressure with your hands? Why does that seem to help?