8 Tips for Healthy Massage Hands
The massage profession is hard on our hands. Be good to your hands. Have tools around to soothe them. Make your hand health a priority. Here are some tips that have healed my hands after they were sore, and several massage therapist buddies of mine use some of the same tips.
1. Keep your hands warm Truly. It really helps. Do what ever it takes to keep them warm, especially right after you last massage of the day. When your hands start getting sore, this
is the #1 helpful tip! I use a bean bag warmer to keep my hands warm: one of those bags that you put in the microwave for 2 minutes. It's awesome!
2. Ice your hands after sessions This seems counter to "Tip 1", but it's helpful. Ice forno more than 10 minutes. I use a ziplock bag of ice and usually no longer than 3 minutes at a time. Soon after icing, I get my hands warm again. For example, I get my hands warm after a massage: and by "after", I mean, after saying "bye" to your client, changing the sheets, etc. Get your hands warm again, and then ice them for 3-10 minutes, then use the bean/rice bag to warm them up. I do this contrast therapy several times
3. Use a paraffin hand bath often Another "warming" option is the paraffin bath. I have my machine on all the time. Dip your hand in 5 times in a row and let it stay of for 5-10 minutes. Because I'm the only one using my paraffin bath, I put the wax back into the machine to reuse the wax. If you've just iced your hands, let them get to room temperature before dipping into the wax.
4. Have Acupuncture on your hands! This really helps! After having a cyst in my palm, Acupuncture got rid of it in 5 sessions. I went 5 days in a row. 1 hour session each day. And I took the herbs they suggested. A hand surgeon told me that surgery wouldn't work and that the cyst would just get bigger and massage as a career was over. Acupuncture worked great. I used Acupuncture again when my thumb was sore and it helped that too... in 2 sessions.
5. Have a hand & body stretching routine Here are some pictures of what I do. I have a drumstick close by to stretch my hands/forearms and to show clients how to stretch theirs. Stretch all the way up to your neck, then also your back and side. I roll my wrists, use the drumsticks for my forearms, a doorway to stretch my pecs, and an exercise ball to stretch my back, obliques, neck and triceps.
6. Get Chiropractic adjustments Sometimes the pain is coming from your neck...just like we tell your clients. When I get an adjustment, it really helps my hands. I try to see Dr. Marrich on a regular basis. When you find a good chiropractor, it really helps to stay "pain-free" in such a physical job as massage therapy. Often, my wrists, elbows and clavicle all adjust.
7. Foam Roll under your arms This really help my arms relax. Get the teres major, minor and your lats. Do this by putting your arm above your head and foam rolling the area under your arms. Email me if you need some ideas with the foam rolling. When my hands are sore, I add this to my routine to soothe them. It's not always the obvious areas that make the most difference.
8. Rest Have rest days. Make time to recover after a certain number of massage hours. And then really rest your hands: no opening of cans, no pushups or weight holding at the gym on your rest days. If you go to the gym, use the "hand rest days" as days for legs & core. Do exercises where "gripping" isn't needed.
I have many things I do daily to take care of my hands so I can continue to do deep tissue massage. Email me if you want to chat about ideas to help if your hands hurt. :) firstname.lastname@example.org