Self-Care: Hands Edition


If you have hands, they probably hurt.  My clients are often surprised by this, until I remind them that we use our hands for everything! **If you don't have hands, your wrists, forearms, etc probably hurt, in which case most of the following still applies**

So what can you do about it?

First and foremost, book a massage.  And when you’re talking with your therapist pre-session, make sure to mention that your hands hurt and that you’d like to have some work done there.  Your body has a lot of soreness to attend to during your session, so if you don’t mention a specific area, we might forsake it in the interest of spending more time on, say, your tired shoulders.  

Now that you have your massage booked, there’s actually a lot you can do for your tired hands in the meantime!



Depending on the level of inflammation and soreness in your hands (did you type a 20-page essay and then go rock climbing for 3 hours?), you may need to start with ice.  Use either a couple of ice packs, or a bowl full of ice water. When using ice packs, never apply directly to the skin. Instead, use a cloth or towel to protect your body’s largest organ.  Limit your cold therapy to about 10 minutes. Longer than that and you can actually trigger an inflammatory response from your body, thereby creating MORE inflammation, and MORE soreness.


Run warm water over some towels and then wrap them around your hands until the towels cool off.  Test the heat of the towels on the inside of your wrist, as this is your most temperature sensitive area, to avoid burning your hands.  Never use boiling water or a microwave, as they can get too hot or heat unevenly.



Add about 1 tbsp of epsom salt for 8 oz of water.  You won’t need much if you’re just soaking your hands.  Whole body sore? Try a whole body epsom salt bath. You’ll need about 2 cups of salt for a standard bathtub.  Make sure to soak for about 20 minutes to help rid your body of inflammation.


Whether using a soft ball to squeeze, silly putty, or just your average wall, stretching each finger and each individual joint in your hand will help increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and get your hands back to feeling like themselves again.  


You can also use your hands to massage your hands (Whoa.).  You can even use some tiger balm, lotion or massage oil to make your hands feel really pampered.  Use your opposite hand to clamp down on the webbing between each finger, especially the meaty muscle between your thumb and forefinger.  Take your time, and do what feels good. There isn’t really a wrong way to do it. Just know that just because something hurts doesn’t make it good for you (more on that in a future post!).  In fact, if your self-massage hurts in a bad way, you should probably stop. Sometimes massage hurts so good, but when it doesn’t, it’s ok to ease off and try another technique. 

Less Stress = Better Massage

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Adulting is hard.  Life can be stressful at times (or let’s be honest, all the time!), because there are seemingly always more things that are constantly demanding our attention beyond the task at hand.  While our initial instinct may be to simply avoid all of the things in our lives that are causing us stress, this can start to be a problem when it becomes necessary to leave the house.  (This is why in my next life I’m coming back as a house cat!)

So unless your new hobby is learning how to be a hermit (and you’re lucky enough to have someone shop your Fancy Feast for you), learning how to deal with stress is a must.  As we mentioned in a previous post, while a single massage is great for reducing stress and increasing general well-being, whatever part of your lifestyle created the tension in your body to begin with may still be waiting for you after you leave your session.  Incorporating regular massage sessions into your routine is a great addition to your zen toolbox.  And your sessions will be even more beneficial if they are joined by several other stress management techniques.  


Yes, it seems like it should be second nature.  And it is, at a bare minimum.  But if you take a little bit of space in your mind to just notice your breathing, it’s amazing how often we’re not really doing it.  Sometimes, you may notice that you’re actually holding your breath without even realizing it.  Long, slow, deep breaths are a great way to calm the body and the mind.  And it takes less time than refilling your cup of coffee.  


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A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.  For some people, this means that they tend to flit like a hummingbird from task to task, while for others this means that once you sit down to work on that important project you just don’t get up until quitin’ time.  Both have their occasional benefits, but the body works best when in balance.  If your life requires you to spend a lot of time in stillness, a few minutes of movement every hour can help keep away brain fog and increase your breathing.  If your lifestyle involves constant movement, even a few minutes to stop, stay still and take in your surroundings can do wonders for your blood pressure.  Personally, I use my dog for this because well, she’s gorgeous.  Every time we go for a walk, I make her sit for a few minutes at this one intersection before we cross the street.  And I just look at her, sitting peacefully, ready to attend to the next task as it comes along.


Humans are a tremendously creative species.  We are not about sticking to the status quo, and are constantly exploring new ways of doing things.  This is why I am using a keyboard to type out a message to send out to all of you on the interwebs.  That creativity can take an abundance of forms, but research has shown that working with your hands makes you feel good.  Check out this great read from the Guardian on how (not) to become a stonemason.  From knitting to making music to building tacos, whatever hobby gives you the feels, working with your hands can help clear your mind and give you a boost of confidence and purpose.  Hint: This is part of why I became a massage therapist in the first place...