Smart reflexologists are vigilant about protecting their hands, both during sessions and while involved in other activities. Staying mindful of one’s body mechanics and the ergonomics of the work environment are important if we want to eliminate the possibility of hurting our trusty hands. Afterall, our hands are our “tools”!
The joint in the hand where most force is concentrated when giving reflexology is the carpometacarpal joint (CMC). This is where the first metacarpal bone articulates with the trapezium bone. For every pound of force applied at the end of the thumb, there are 10 to 12 pounds exerted on this joint. Osteoarthritis, a common affliction in weight-bearing joints, can easily develop in the CMC joint of overused thumbs.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen. (I, for one, have been doing reflexology since 1983 and massage therapy since 1989, and have never had problems with my hands.)
To begin with, anytime you are performing small, precise movements in bodywork – as one does in reflexology – your ideal position is seated, with the table at or just above elbow height. Anything lower, over time, will cause problems in the hands and especially the CMC joint.
When applying pressure to reflexology points, keep a straight alignment through the thumb, first metacarpal bone through to the radius. You especially want a strong alignment at both the interphalangeal joint of the pollex (thumb) and the first metacarpalphalangeal joint. Become ambidextrous, using both hands during a session, and your fingers as well as your thumbs.
When applying pressure with the fingertips, you can reduce your risk of injury by using several fingers together, bracing one hand with the other, keeping your wrists straight and avoiding extension of the finger joints.
Other self-care tips:
- Wear gloves when gardening or other activities where injury to the hands is possible.
- Get into a regular habit of stretching your hands before and after giving sessions. With perfect alignment, do wrist curls (both extension and flexion) with a small weight, in order to strengthen the muscles and tendons crossing the wrist area.
- Ice your hands after giving sessions, or at least run cold water over them after washing.
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