Massaging has been a natural response when pain is felt on a specific part of the body. When your back or leg muscles become painful, or when you are stressed at work, the spa (a place that offers therapeutic massages) seems to complete the missing piece of the puzzle and provide relaxation and relief. Massage can be a powerful tool to help you achieve ideal health and well-being. Even its benefits is also acknowledged in the field of medicine as it is used as a complementary procedure for treatments or an alternative medication itself, depending on the patients’ specific cases and conditions. According to studies, the benefits of massage include reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. However, more research is needed to support the benefits of massage. But with some studies, it has proven that massage can help with:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
Chinese medication use pressure points in the hands by massaging it to access specific parts of the body for pain relief, also known as accupressure. However, what if the hand itself is where the pain is? Arthritis conditions plague the joints in the different parts of the body including the hands. There are more than 300 joints in the human body, 29 of which are found in the hands alone. Arthritis of the hands is usually caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are actually more than 100 cases of arthritis that can affect the hands. The symptoms include pain, swelling, changes in surrounding joints, warmth, crepitation and looseness, among others. These will make it difficult for you to perform tasks that usually are just easy for you to do, such holding a glass, cooking, eating, slicing ingredients and others. However, with the right massage, you can relieve or even stop the pain in the hands caused by arthritis. In a 2006 research study by Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, twenty-two adults (in which mostly are women) diagnosed with hand or wrist arthritis were the subjects. They were given four weekly massages from a therapist and were taught to do a 15-minute massage (with moderate pressure) of their sore hand joints daily at home. It led to reduced pain and anxiety, and increased their grip strength as compared when they were not having a massage yet as observed prior to the start of therapy. Here are the best hand massages to relieve and even alleviate pain due to arthritis of the hand:
How to do it? Step 1. Face the palm down. Press it with your thumbs and make little circles around the wrist’s bones. Move up and down the wrist as you work. Step 2. Turn the wrist over and stroke the inside of the wrist with your thumbs. Press firmly and stroke towards the palm and back to the wrist. Note: If you experience intense pain during a wrist massage, see a physician. You may have another underlying issue that needs to be diagnosed. If you experience pain in your wrist, you can massage your forearms. How to do it? Step 1. Use your hands or a foam roller. Use long, broad strokes to loosen up the larger muscles in the forearms. This will reduce tension in the entire arm and relax the tendons in your hands. Tip: You can also roll a tennis ball along your forearm to massage the tendons that stretch from the elbow to the wrist.
How to do it? Step 1. Stroke the palm with firm and even motions that move away from the wrist. Focus on the pad of the palm and the fleshy side of the hand. Step 2. Massage the center of the palm in circular motions. Note: The palm contains many powerful muscles and tendons. Therefore, you may need to apply more pressure when massaging this part of the hand.
How to do it? Step 1. Start with the pinkie and work towards the thumb, massaging one finger at a time. Gently pinch the base of each finger between the knuckles of your index and middle finger. Step 2. Slowly drag your knuckles down to the tip of the finger, squeezing gently. Repeat this process several times. Step 3. Gently pinch the webbing between the fingers for a tendon massage. Note: Pay special attention to finger joints especially if the person getting massaged experiences joint pain. If so, start by rubbing each one gently to release any tension.
How to do it? Step 1. Turn the hand over and begin massaging the top of the hand with your thumbs. Step 2. You will feel several long, thin bones leading from the wrist to the fingers. Apply pressure with your thumbs and slowly stroke the hand back and forth. Your stroke should move towards the knuckles and then back towards the wrist. Notes:
- Pay special attention to the areas between the bones. These areas contain important tendons that can cause hand pain.
- Also, the skin on the back of your hand is very thin. Make sure it’s well lubricated to prevent discomfort.
After massaging your hands, blood circulation is improved allowing blood to travel throughout the veins in your hands, but cooling down with hand stretches is the best transition from your vein’s active state while being massaged to a passive state. Here are the best hand stretches that you can do to cool down your hands after a massage: Note: If you’re massaging someone else, it is important that you ask them to identify painful areas in their hands. The massage should provide a pleasant pressure but should not hurt. If they experience any pain, they should say so. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of the massage. With all the mentioned positive benefits of massaging, it also poses some risks. There are times or cases that it may not be appropriate for a person. So before doing a massage, it is more advisable that you discuss the pros and cons with your doctor. Some forms of massage can leave your hands feeling a bit sore the next day, but massage shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable unless there is another underlying reason for the pain. If any part of the massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, act or speak up immediately. It is wise to also ask for a professional therapist’s help as they would know what to do better.