We’ve Got The Whole World in Our Hands… All The More Reason to look after them…
Hand care is a topic that affects every single one of us as Holistic and Beauty Therapists.
The Basics: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or me) to tell you that your hands are a vital tool for interacting with the world around you. As a guide, we all have 27 bones and 29 joints in each hand, along with at least 123 ligaments, 34 muscles, 30 arteries and 48 major nerves that branch into a more sensitive neural link between the fingertips and the brain than from the eyes. Imagine that.
But it’s not just about the power of touch here – it goes much broader. Who can tick any of the following as an important part of their business lives –
• Keeping their hands clean and/or soft
• Keeping nails short or well manicured/presented
• A confident handshake to reassure a new client
• Reiki healing or energetic exchange
• Using a keyboard/tablet/mobile to book clients, send emails or social media
• The need for strong, steady and/or warm hands
• Handling jars, bottles or equipment with repeated usage (hygiene)
• Last but not least, massage or hands-on techniques?
Yes. The health and longevity of our hands is essential. So here goes with upping the self-care…
Firstly, on the outside. No one expects to see any health or well-being practitioner with dry, rough hands or broken/nibbled nails – but constant washing/sanitising, whether as a healer or hands-on therapist, along with our UK weather, stress/busy lifestyle, nutrient depletion, cleaning our therapy rooms, houses and bodies with detergent-based products will eventually take its toll.
What can we do?
1. Keep hands exfoliated to remove dry skin – look for natural products with ground rosehip seeds and/or fruit enzymes
2. Invest in a good manicure at least every other month (yes, men too)
3. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise, especially overnight when the skin heals – ethical products containing shea butter, olive and/or coconut oil are good ones to look out for. Include your nails as they will benefit too.
4. Try to get plenty of zinc, iron, vitamin C and B group vitamins in your diet – all proven to alleviate brittle nails and enhance skin health.
5. Get those Marigold gloves out for washing up, gardening or cleaning the car – and your fingernails weren’t designed to remove staples!
What about cold hands?
Thankfully less common, but this can be an annoying companion if working in the hands-on industry! But is there any self-help available? Maybe so…
1. The most important single factor is to keep your therapy/consulting room warm enough. Even if clients are on a heated couch with fluffy towels over them, you still need to make sure the air temperature is comfortable. Your body closes off small arteries in your skin if you’re too cold.
2. If your therapy uniform is only one layer thick or synthetic fibres, get those thin cotton layers or long johns on underneath during chilly days.
3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps blood flow (found in oily fish and green leafy veg). Ginkgo Biloba supplements also help blood flow to extremities.
4. Ditch the caffeine – it is a vaso-constrictor – and up the water and herbal teas to re-hydrate.
5. If largely sedentary, do keep active between clients – have a 2 or 3 minute walk, or go up and down the stairs a few times. You need to encourage the blood flow back into your hands by getting the heart pumping.
6. If all else fails, buy some re-usable hand warmers! A Google search will bring up many affordable choices.
Hot Tip: Reiki Healers – using your hands as a conduit to direct Universal energy is a wonderful gift to the world – but does anyone really know what energy, electro-magnetic and/or physiological changes are left behind after a session? Keeping hydrated, grounded and hands washed is of course essential. But there’s more…
We know that one of the best ways to cleanse and re-charge the energy of a crystal is by soaking it in salt-water – so why should your hands (and body) be any different? Treat your hands like a crystal by soaking them in a bowl of warm water with dissolved sea salt, Espom salt or Himalayan rock salt. Even add a few of your favourite crystals in there. Follow by moisturising with a natural ‘salt’ range such a Dead Sea Spa. Take regular baths in salts too to keep charged up and free of negative energy.
Finally, for the hands-on and massage therapists – over-used, sore and aching hands are a hazard of our trade. Yes, there are many “hands-free” massage therapies out there and use of knuckles and elbows instead of fingers and thumbs is more and more commonplace – but there’s no getting away from it for certain moves and treatments (including facials or ironically hand massage!).
Talking of which, there’s nothing better than having your own hands and arms regularly massaged. This should ideally be monthly via a professional (to save your own hands!), therapy swap or alternatively the following simple moves can be performed on yourself at the end of a busy day –
1. Stretch the fingers of your left hand by holding them as one unit with your right hand and pull them gently downwards to the wrist to feel the stretch. Repeat on the other hand.
2. Putting your palms together in prayer position, push your left fingers gently backwards to feel the stretch. Repeat on the other hand.
3. Clench your fists and rotate your wrists in circles clockwise and anti-clockwise three times.
4. Massage firmly all over the palm of your hand using your opposite thumb. Repeat each palm for 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Firmly squeeze each finger and thumb in turn using your opposite hand. Repeat on each hand three times.
6. Slowly and firmly massage each knuckle and finger joint with the opposite hand.
Regularly stretching the neck, shoulders, chest and arms will also go a long way to protecting the mobility of your hands and wrists. Also factor in rest periods and vary your treatments as far as you can.
For all of us, a lovely treat just before bedtime is to rub a few drops of pre-blended (German rather than Roman) chamomile oil into each pulse point on the wrist and over the base of the thumb where we can store tension. To make your own blend, simply add about 4 drops of chamomile oil to 1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties as well as soothing muscle pain and spasms. Its calming aroma is legendary and perfect to also help a good nights’ sleep.
Now that’s essential for any therapist.
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