How To Give A Hand Massage? Hand Pressure Points
When people think of getting a massage, they often imagine getting undressed and receiving a full-body massage on a table. However, that is not the only way someone can benefit from massage techniques.
Massage on the hands, wrists and lower arms can provide a multitude of benefits. Gentle hand massage is often used for persons who are ill, injured or otherwise fragile to provide relaxation and pain relief. Using hand reflexology or acupressure techniques allows you to work on conditions in other parts of the body by working on the hand alone.
At a spa or nail salon, estheticians or cosmetologists may incorporate hand massage techniques into their treatments to add relaxation to the experience.
Gentle hand massage techniques
People who are medically fragile can benefit from hand massage, but the techniques used should be gentle and slow, with no excessive pressure. This type of gentle massage can also be used if your intention is primarily relaxation.
Lotions or creams may help decrease friction, making the strokes smoother and softer. Before using any lotions or creams, be sure to ask about allergies to ingredients or issues with scents. About 5 minutes on each hand is an effective amount of time to spend, although your massage may be longer or shorter depending on preferences and needs.
Hand massage steps
A hand massage may be given while the person is lying down or sitting up in a chair. Get in a position where you can comfortably reach her hands and arms.
- Begin by putting a small amount of lotion in your hand, warming it slightly before applying it. Spread lotion gently over the surfaces of the lower arm (if accessible) and hand, applying to palm, back of hand, and fingers.
- Next, begin long strokes from the wrist to the elbow, along the forearm. The muscles and tendons in the forearm control many of the movements of the hands. These may be quite tender, so begin with very gentle pressure, and gradually increase to a level that feels good. If you are working with a medically fragile person, keep the pressure light.
- Next, work around the wrist. You can use gentle circular motions with your thumbs or fingers to work the wrist area. Move on to the palm of the hand. Use your thumbs to gently massage the “meaty” part of the hand below the thumb. Gently slide your thumbs along the tendons from the base of the hand to the base of each finger, stretching the hand slightly as you work along the lines.
- Using your fingers, massage and gently stretch each of the fingers. You may spend a little extra time at each knuckle, gently massaging to bring circulation to the area.
- Turn the hand over and lightly stroke or stretch across the back of the hand. Remember that the skin is very thin and fragile in this area, especially with older persons.
- Gently mobilize the wrist by flexing, extending and rotating it. Be sure to stay within your client’s tolerances. Finish up with light “feather” strokes along the lower arm and hand.
- After massaging the first hand, move to the other hand and repeat.
Acupressure points on the hand
You may want to include acupressure in a hand massage or as a stand-alone hand treatment. Acupressure uses the same points on energy lines or meridians as acupuncture does, in order to aid with pain relief or improve energy flow to various areas of the body. There are several points in the hands. Acupressure is typically applied by using deep pressure for up to three minutes at each point. Lighter pressure or energy work could also be used at the points for people who do not tolerate deep pressure. Minimal or no oil or lotion should be used when working on these points. Commonly used points include:
- LI4-This point is located on the back of the hand in the web between the thumb and the first long bone of the hand. It is useful for relief of headache in the front of the head, the back of the head, and in the eye area. It may also be used for relief of jaw pain, toothache, neck pain and tension, sore throat, sinusitis, and laryngitis. It may also be used for alleviating hand pain, constipation, diarrhea, itching and hot flashes. It is recommended that you work this point by applying firm, deep strokes of pressure in an upward direction for two minutes. This point should not be used on someone who is pregnant.
- TW5-This point is located on the back of the forearm, about 3 fingers above the wrist crease, in the depression between the bones. It is useful for the relief of headache on the side of the head. TW5 can also help with wrist pain and hand pain. It is recommended that you work this point by applying firm, deep strokes of pressure in an upward direction for two minutes.
- TW4-This point is located on the back of the wrist, in the center of the wrist crease. It is useful for alleviating wrist pain and hand pain. Work this point by applying firm, deep strokes of pressure in an upward direction for two minutes.
- P6-This point is located on the interior (front) of the forearm, about 3 fingers above the wrist crease, in the depression between the bones (opposite of TW5). It can be used to relieve wrist pain and hand pain. It may also help in relieving anxiety and heartburn. Work this point by applying strokes of deep pressure downward toward the palm of the hand for three minutes or longer.
- P7-This point is located at the wrist crease, on the interior (front). It can be used to relieve wrist pain and hand pain. Work this point by applying strokes of deep pressure downward toward the palm of the hand for three minutes or longer.
- LI5-Located in the wrist crease at the base of the thumb. It can be used to relieve wrist pain. Work this point by applying firm deep strokes of pressure in an upward direction for two minutes.
- SI5-Located in the wrist crease in the hollow on the back of the “pinky” side of the wrist. It can be used to relieve wrist pain. Work this point by applying firm deep strokes of pressure in an upward direction for two minutes.
- H7-Located on the front of the “pinky” side of the wrist in the hollow formed by the wrist, inside bone of the arm and tendon. You can find this by sliding your finger across the straight wrist until it drops into the hollow. H7 can be helpful in relieving anxiety and insomnia. Work this point by applying firm deep strokes toward the palm of the hand for one minute.
Reflexology is based on the theory that there are areas or points on your hands, feet and ears that “reflect” the condition of other areas of your body. By working the areas on your hands, you can affect the balance of energy in the rest of your body.
Hand reflexology charts map out each area of the hand and which area of the body is reflected there.
- In general, the fingers are reflexology areas for the head, and the fingertips for the sinuses.
- The thumb side of the hand and the outside of the thumb are reflexology areas for the spine.
- The internal organs are reflected in the palms of the hand, and the “pinky” side of the hand has reflexology areas for the shoulders, hips, and legs.
By working the various areas of the hand, you can give the benefits of a full body massage. A full hand reflexology session may take 15 minutes or more per hand to work each area in detail.
Massaging your own hands
You can massage your own hands using similar techniques to those above. When working on your own hands, you can include more stretching exercises, such as closing and opening your fists, spreading your fingers as wide as you can, flexing and extending your wrists, and rotating your wrists.
Using a little lotion, you can massage your palms, fingers, between the fingers, around the wrists and the backs of your hands. You may be able to work on your own forearms as well, by resting your arm on a flat surface and applying long strokes up the arm toward the heart.
If you aren’t able to massage your own hands, or if working on one hand wears the other hand out, you may want to look into purchasing a hand massage tool. A number of hand massage devices are available. Some are mechanical and consist of rollers that you slide your hand and arm through, and the surface of the rollers provide the massaging action. The user controls the depth and duration of the pressure on various areas. The cost of a mechanical hand massage device is generally around $50. Reviews of this type of product have been generally positive, with complaints being that the pressure isn’t sufficient or that the device is not sturdy enough.
Another option is an electrical hand massage device. This type of device uses air pressure and heat to massage the pressure points around the palm and fingers. You put your hand in, start it, and adjust the heat and pressure to your preferences. Then the air bladders in the device will inflate and deflate to provide compression therapy on your hand. With some of these devices, the effect is not “massaging” as much as it is repeatedly compressing acupressure and reflexology points. Users note that your hand has dents or dimples in it after a session, that usually fade after 15-20 minutes.
Other similar hand massage devices use the bladders without the pressure devices to give more of a massage feel without the point compressions. These devices are not recommended for people who are medically fragile or have inflammation or injury to their hands. Reviews of these devices have been generally positive. Some people with larger hands may have a difficult time fitting into this one size fits all device, and some customers have complained that even the lowest pressure setting is too painful for them to use. The cost of these devices range from $100-$130.
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