Let’s hear it for our hard-working hands

Image credit: Alex Hockett

Image credit: Alex Hockett

Let’s hear it for the hands

If you have full use of your hands then chances are they work pretty hard for you.

They caress and comfort your loved ones, they facilitate your vocation and help to pay your bills, they prepare your food and drive it towards your mouth, they do your talking for you.

They are one of the most complex and expressive tools at our disposal and yet we generally take them for granted.

Caring at Christmas

Just after Christmas I spent an afternoon giving free massage to homeless people as part of Caring in Bristol‘s Caring at Christmas project.

We were working in a busy room with lots of people coming and going so all massage was given over clothes. Because of this I was often drawn to the hands, and I discovered that working in this way, from my hands to theirs, was incredibly intimate.

Despite all the noise and the hectic surroundings, once I started massaging hands it was like everything went quiet. These limbs, so used to asking for help of one kind or another, were now receiving something other than a few coins dropped from a distance. The results were powerful.

I felt like I was cutting through layers of front and getting to the core of something real, much more so than when massaging a back, neck or shoulder.

Hand to hand

Perhaps because our hands express so many thoughts and feelings (think of a passionate public speaker or a nervous interviewee) they’re more directly linked to what’s going on inside.

It’s hard to say for sure but whatever the reason, the power that comes from nurturing them is significant, as anyone who’s ever held the hands of a loved one will know.

Whatever your vocation, your hands do an awful lot on your behalf. And when you’re going about your business, immersed in the ins and outs of every day life, they work away without you even realising it.

So why not take five and give your hands a bit of TLC to say thank you for all that they do?

Here are a few tips to help keep your hard-working hands happy and healthy.

Stay warm

Muscles work better when they’re warm. Use a hot water bottle or heat pack to warm up your hands before you settle down to work. This will improve circulation and blood flow and encourage your muscles to work more effectively.

Why not combine your hand warm up with a mind warm up and set an intention before you start work?

When it’s all over at the end of the day, treat your muscles to a nice hot bath.


Movement helps to keep your joints lubricated and mobile. Before you start work why not try some gentle circling?

Start by rotating your wrists in small circles and then moving on to your fingers and thumbs, moving each digit individually and according to its own ability.

Listen to your body and see what feels most comfortable. If your joints are happy with small circles think about making them a bit bigger.


Short, tight muscles limit motion and increase the chance of injury. Stretching is a fantastic way to make them longer and looser.

Before you start work, make a fist and then spread your fingers as wide as you can for a few seconds. Repeat this five times.

When stretching ask yourself, How do I use my hands all day? What direction do they go in? Then stretch them the opposite way.

For example, if you spend a lot of time typing at a keyboard your wrists will be bent forward and your fingers tapping down.

To bring length into those hard-working muscles bend your wrist and fingers back in the opposite direction either on their own or by using the opposite hand to achieve a fuller stretch.

Give your hands and arms a shake in between to flush the joints with nutrients.

Remember to listen to your body. Never, ever force a stretch, ignore pain or rush into a position.

Go into the stretch gradually, come out gradually and gently hold the position for 20 or so seconds, as long as it’s comfortable to do so.


Nurturing touch is what massage is all about. Why not treat your hands to some?

Explore the bony structures in your hands and bring in some squeezing, circling and holding.

Remember not to go digging or searching for any discomfort. Act with curiosity and be gentle with yourself. This is chance for you to give your hands some TLC.

Add cream or oil for an extra layer of luxury.

Book a professional massage

Holistic massage is a fantastic treatment for your mind, body and spirit developed in partnership between therapist and client.

If you’re a regular client then why not think about adding some hand massage to your treatment plan?

If you’ve never received nurturing touch before and are curious to try it, then why not get in touch?

I’d love to hear from you and work with those hard-working hands of yours!

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