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80 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k n ove m b e r/d e ce m b e r 2 0 2 1 The Hand A User's Guide By Allison Denney how I can still be doing the work I do without my thumbs falling off or my fingers turning into arthritic claws. The answer is to work beyond the hand. Use the following exercise to get creative with using other body parts for massage. EXERCISE: WORK BEYOND THE HAND Set up a table and borrow a friend, making sure you borrow a friend you trust and feel comfortable with. I would not attempt this with an actual client for reasons that will become clear in a minute. Ask your friend to remain clothed but to lie on your table in a prone position with their face in the face cradle. You now have the task of working on your friend with this technique | THE REBEL MT In massage school, we are taught to use all the parts of our hands. The thumbs, the fingers, the palms, the knuckles—use them all, and save yourself from breakdown. It has been a mantra of sorts I have employed throughout the years to keep my own body healthy and safe from breakdown: Switch it up. Use all the parts. Don't stick with the same tools. Obviously, I would be a horrible massage therapist— and an even worse massage therapy instructor—if I didn't include the forearm and the elbow in that toolbox. But for the purposes of this article (and for the sake of an anatomically curious argument), I am lumping those in with the hand. Clearly these are different body parts and giving the entire lower arm from the elbow down one label is ludicrous. Or is it? From your anatomy lectures, you may remember that most of the muscles responsible for moving the hand are in the forearm. The flexors, on the inside of the forearm, reach from the medial elbow bone all the way down through the wrist into the palm, and out to the grabby part of your finger bones. And the extensors extend (pun intended) from the lateral elbow bone through the wrist and the top of the hand, all the way to the fingernail part of the finger bones. There are, of course, lots of other little muscles in the hand that give the hand its unique ability to manipulate things. But you'll notice that it's pretty hard to do any of those things without the use of the flexors and extensors. Try snapping. You'll notice it's hard to snap without seeing some movement under the skin in the forearm. It's like trying to jump without bending your knees. Or sneeze without blinking. Or scream without raising your voice— to quote one of my favorite songs. It's just not in the cards. The dilemma, however, lies in the fact that even though there are amazing ways to use all the parts of your "hands" in your practice (to save your body from mechanical failure), they are still your hands—and they are still limited in their abilities. I am frequently asked about DARIA SHEV TSOVA/PEXELS.COM

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