It’s National Massage at Work Week, in the UK. When I was looking at the calendar to find out when the US one was, it seemed to be missing. Or rather, you guys are really missing out. Not only does it feel so relaxing, it gives vital release to vital keyboard muscles, and of course it’s a great way to bring your team together. Incidentally, if you are a professional aromatherapist, and you are not exploiting this earning potential, you might want to consider it. Many companies like an opportunity to treat their staff, and the fact that you are supporting their health is a fabulous selling point. If you can support your hand massage techniques with some knowledge about how their workspaces should be set up to prevent stress injuries and bad posture, it can be an extremely lucrative earner.
Who Benefits from Hand Massages?
Today’s world demands that most of us hold our hands in awkward unnatural positions. Think about how we type and text onto our tiny mobiles. A hand massage is an unparalleled opportunity to stretch out and relax muscles many of us don’t even realize we are over using. That is, until they begin to hurt, which pin points to you being a long way down a road that is very difficult to repair. Good hand relaxation is an overlooked requirement in this day and age. A hand massage isn’t only for keyboard wizzes. It is gorgeous if you live with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, or even Raynaud’s Disease. If you have a relative in a care home too, hand massage techniques are recognised as a lovely healing way to communicate with people with dementia.
Hand massage techniques are simple and easy to learn, non-invasive to do, and are guaranteed to help you win friends and influence people. One of the key pitfalls for doing self massage is that most hand techniques require two hands, so if you can learn with someone else, it can be much more fun and effective. From now on, I’ll refer to the person you are practicing your hand massage techniques on as “your model”.
The Best Essential Oils and Carriers for Hand Massage Techniques
Ideally, you want something light that will absorb into the hands fast. Jojoba and grapeseed are my favorite carriers for this. However, the amount of time you have available to you might dictate that oil might not be your best choice. Ideally, you are going to want the oil to remain in their hands for at least twenty minutes so it absorbs in. If they are rushing back to work, it would be reasonable for them to want to wash their hands before they touch their expensive computers, because keyboards and oil, trust me, an aromatherapy writer has a bit of experience of these things - not a good combination
So, if there is a rush, talcum powder is the real deal. It has superb slip and is ideal for these situations.
The Opening Hand Massage Techniques
If you want to be posh, you can call it by its technical name effleurage, or you can say stroke the oils (or talc, please take that as read from now on) into the hand, slowly, lightly, lovingly.
If your model is willing, take the blend over the front and back of the hands and up the lower part of the arm too.
The hand massage techniques are the same regardless of the person’s reasons for having one but clearly one’s pressure will alter. You need to apply fairly rigorous hand massage techniques for someone with arthritis, whereas even a featherlight touch can be too much for fibromyalgia. In those cases, you are merely stroking the skin, nothing more.
So, my first tip, when I am teaching hand massage techniques, is to really tune into what your fingers are telling you as you touch the other person.
Be aware of how it affects them.
- Are they tense?
- Did they flinch?
- Do they feel awkward with you touching them?
Listen to your fingers. Direct your full attention to their hands, but keep the full range of their body language in your awareness. Notice their breathing.
Top Tip: Try to mirror your model’s breathing. Breathe in as they breathe in, and out as they breathe out. This happens naturally as two people gain rapport. As they fall into line, mirror for a while, but then very gently slow your breath. Watch what happens. You’ll lead your partner into a slow space of deep relaxation.
We’ll focus on each of the hand massage techniques in turn and please note that best practice is to do all of one hand, and then do all of the other.
Sit with your model opposite you. Across the desk works if you can reach. Otherwise, pop a towel across your knees and work with your lap as your workspace.
Stretching Hand Massage Techniques
Take your model’s hand between both of yours.
Use your thumbs to weave between their thumb and index finger, and your other hand through their smallest finger and fourth finger.
Open your hands out, so you stretch right across the flat of their palm.
Now place your fingers of one hand over the fingers of theirs and gently stretch so you see the joints at the bottom of their fingers lift.
Essentially, these hand massage techniques push the fingers backwards, stretching the lateral bone structures of the hand.
Now gently grasp the forehand, so it twists, and rotate the rotate the wrist joint very softly.
Rotate it very gently, but just loosen out the wrist joint so it becomes more mobile.
Rotate it three ways going clockwise, then three times counter clockwise.
Finally now we're going to use a hand Massage Technique that stretches out the spaces between each of the joints within the fingers.
Gently take a hold of their thumb and give it a tug and release.
Take their first finger, tug, and release.
Work through, right across the hand.
Hand Massage Techniques: Fingers
These are the most simple parts of the hand massage techniques but don’t dismiss them as being nothing. Watch the effects on your model’s face. It is so soothing and relaxing.
We are simply going to squeeze each digit between the thumb and first finger.
Use the thumb as the worker and the finger as a support for the model’s digit.
Working from the base of the digit to the tip, simply work in tiny circles massaging each place in turn.
We store a lot of negative energy in our hands, so it’s good practice to do a little flick and visualize that you have taken away the stress from each finger.
Flick it away, and when you touch the finger next, replace that energy by pouring in light.
Ensure your supporting hand always retains contact with your model, even if your working hand is elsewhere. Throughout any massage, it is best practice to have contact, somehow, all the way through.
Hand Massage Techniques: Palms
So, we have already stretched the hand, longitudinally, at the beginning with our thumbs, at the start.
Then we pressed the fingers back to stretch it, latitudinally.
Now we are going to work between the bones, and massage the overworked connective tissues.
Start in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger.
Be aware that this is a very important acupressure point for both pain management and relieving stress.
Applying firm touch to this point reduces stress, soothes migraines, toothaches, shoulder tension, and neck pain.
Be careful not to overstimulate it, but you can massage this area up to about 2 minutes.
Be aware that for someone who suffers pain, or is very tense, this will be an incredibly sensitive point. Work gently, increasing pressure gradually, allowing free movement of energy back through the point.
When you’re happy that is emptied move on to the next step. It tends to numb after a while, but don’t worry if it does that, you might want to encourage your model to revisit the point themselves a couple of times a day to really clear it out.
To stress again, two minutes is ample. Do not overstimulate the point.
Next: work across the palm, from wrist to finger, putting pressure, in little circles in the connective tissues between the bones.
Then, using the entire length of your thumb, slide right across the palm. Here rather than working between the bones, we’re looking to push the fluids, through the tissues just beneath the skin.
Advanced Hand Massage Techniques: Turning The Hand Over
Place one hand on top of their hand, one beneath, as if you have caught them in your prayer.
Smoothly, slowly and gently, turn their hand over.
Remember intention, intention, intention…
You’re not just holding someone’s hand. You are pouring love and light into it. Caring for them and healing them.
The back of the hand gives you a very different perspective.
Notice the pores in their skin. See them for what they are; portals of healing for the oils to go into the skin. Direct them with your mind. Imagine yourself as a conduit for the healing energy of the sun, allowing the light to pour through you.
Now: This time work from the wrist, down each bone construction to the end of each finger.
Make three passes over each finger from the where it starts in the wrist, down to the tips..
- Over the bone
- Supporting tendons between the bones
- Tissues beneath the skin
Don’t forget, draw negative energy off the end of the finger. Visualize light pouring back in.
Hand Massage Techniques : The Wrist
Really simple. Use your thumb and forefinger to work over the wrist.
The technique is not the issue here, it’s the level of pain you cause and whether it’s good pain or bad pain. This is an area of extraordinary tension, work effectively, attentively and diligently.
Lower Arm Massage
Now, there really should be a new condition called Mouse Arm in my opinion.
Be aware of the muscle and tendon about two inches down from the elbow, middle of the arm, on the soft underside.
This is the target we are working towards, because often this can be so sore and inflamed, simply from using a mouse.
I have to pay special attention here when I have been editing and formatting my books, because it gets really painful, and we often see it in graphic designers too.
But, like I say, we are going to work towards it, soothing the muscle as we go.
I’d recommend you re-oil your hand before starting this section. (Regain contact by placing the model’s hand on your lap.) This skin can be drier and quite thirsty, but don’t be heavy handed with your oil. You can always add more and feeling oil dripping down your arm is not very soothing at all!
Working wrist to elbow, simply use long flowing strokes, not only to apply the oil but to work those tissues beneath the surface.
You’re going to begin by working the soft inner of the arm, so you might want to use your praying hands trick, to ensure that part of the arm is available to you.
Using both hands, position your thumbs between the radius and ulna, the two lower arm bones, and firmly but gently stroke outwards so you stretch across the tendon.
Take one hand off, replace it a little higher up the arm, then do the same with the other.
Always having one hand on your model, work up the arm to the elbow.
When you reach the elbow, replace the first hand at the wrist, follow with the second and work your way up, then again, to make three passes.
Turn the arm over, and do the same up the outside of the arm.
Finishing Hand Massage Techniques
No-one ever wants a good massage to end, so we need to prepare the model’s mind that is imminent.
Gently stroke all the way down the arm, slowly down the hand, and off the fingers, one at a time, each time, flicking off the last of the negative energy again.
That’s that hand finished. We are going to do the same on the other side, so we’ll need them to swap hands. When you ask them to do that, do so in almost a whisper. You’ll find that their attention is very aware, and you don’t want to shock all your good work by shouting.
So there you have it. This week is Aromatherapy Awareness Week, so if you get a chance to share some of the love, please let us know whether you enjoyed your new hand massage techniques and what your models thought about the lovely gift you gave them.