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F r e e S O A P n o t e s w i t h M a s s a g e B o o k f o r A B M P m e m b e r s : a b m p . u s / M a s s a g e b o o k 23 We talk about self-care a lot here at Massage & Bodywork, and for good reason: therapists spend nearly all of their working time taking care of others, sometimes to the point of neglecting themselves. To continue to provide the best care for your clients, you need to ensure that the tools of your trade are functioning optimally—and your hands are arguably your most important tools. Take your nails: for the busy massage therapist, nail care can often be little more than an afterthought, if it's thought of at all. It's important to keep your nails clean, trimmed, and manicured in accordance with the standards of the profession, but busy massage therapists don't always have the time (or money) to receive regular manicures from a nail professional. Everyday self-care for the hands and fingernails is something every therapist should practice. With that in mind, we asked some nail care experts for their advice on keeping your nails healthy and strong. TIP 1 Wear gloves when working with your hands, such as housecleaning or gardening. This will protect your fingernails and keep dirt from getting under them. It's also important to wear rubber gloves when washing dishes in hot, soapy water. Just like your hands, fingernails become dry and brittle when subjected to over-washing. TIP 2 Keep your nail beds protected by moisturizing your cuticles with a high-quality cuticle oil or massage oil. TIP 3 Trim and file nails regularly to keep them healthy and to avoid snagging or breaking. TIP 4 Do not clip your cuticles. Soak your nails in warm water (add essential oils if desired) for at least three minutes, then gently push the cuticles back with an orange stick. TIP 5 Rather than digging or scraping under your nails to remove dirt, go with a gentler option and use a nail brush to scrub dirt away. TIP 6 Fragile nails can sometimes be caused by an iron deficiency in your diet. Iron-rich foods include beans and other legumes, beets, fish, lean red meat, and spinach. TIP 7 Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated and maintaining good nutrition is the best thing you can do for your hair, nails, and skin. Brandon Twyford is assistant editor for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Contact him at Self-Care for Your Hands Keeping your hands clean is an important part of maintaining a sanitary massage practice, but because therapists wash their hands between every session, the skin can become dry and brittle from over-washing. To prevent this, use a liquid soap that contains humectants (moisturizers). After each washing, apply cuticle oil to your cuticles and a pH-balanced lotion to your hands.

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