Massage Therapist Self-Care Video: Wrist Pain

This week’s video is on self-treatment for wrist pain. It’s specifically for massage therapists, but I imagine there’s some good info in there for other people.

The information in this video should be pretty safe for any non-traumatic wrist injury, whether it’s a persistent ache after increasing your daily workload, or pain following a “tweak” during a deep pressure massage. I talk about stretching, strengthening, and self-massage, as well as a basic timeline for your recovery. If your pain sticks around despite treatment, feels unusual, or gets worse, do see a medical professional.

Other than the treatment stuff, I mostly emphasize rest. Now, it’s hard to imagine resting your wrists while continuing your massage practice, but it’s possible. You’ll need to find ways to reduce the proportion of your massage where you’re applying palmar pressure. If it’s currently 50%, we need to get you down to half that, or less, for the recovery period.

That means digging into your toolbox and using techniques that you use less frequently. Increase the amount of open fist techniques (if your wrist can tolerate them comfortably), and forearm use. Try specific pressure with well-supported fingers and thumbs. Switch tools frequently, before fatigue sets in, so that you don’t create any new overuse injuries while you’re adapting.

When you do use your palms, try to use them in ways less likely to cause pain. Listen to that pain, and let it tell you what positions are perilous for your unique anatomy. It usually helps to apply palmar pressure with less wrist extension, and with the weight distributed more evenly across the palm. You can layer one palm atop the other and apply the same amount of pressure using half the force with each arm.

As you recover, you can definitely bring palmar moves back! This will be after weeks of self-work, stretching, and strengthening, and you’ll have a more powerful base of force and stability than what you started with. Just reintegrate the moves gradually, and keep an eye on that wrist angle.

What do you think, gang? Have you hurt your wrists while doing massage? Have you done it repeatedly, like I did in my early career? What changes have you made to get yourself back in the game?

P.S. As you can see in the video, I… may be selling shirts again 🙂 They’ll be available until September 8th!

2 thoughts on “Massage Therapist Self-Care Video: Wrist Pain

  1. Hi Ian I really enjoy your videos and agree with your philosophy. I am a Myotherapist and Lymphoedema Therapist in Australia and treat my clients conservatively. Some clients have been used to being in pain or bruised by other therapists and when they first see me for treatment they want to feel pain! I explain that the body should not be in excessive pain or bruised with any treatment and although sceptical when they leave they all come back because it works!! I also have a hand held low level laser that I purchased for use with my Lymphoedema clients but I also use it on trigger points which is a great saving on my thumbs. We all have to work smarter so thank you so much for the great videos and please keep them coming! Best regards Christine ?

    1. Great stuff, Christine! I’m glad you’re helping your clients see that they don’t need pain, either pre-existing or applied by a therapist. If that can be our legacy as massage therapists, that ain’t bad at all 🙂

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