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Playful Self-Care for Hands

July 2, 2019

By Angela Kneale, OTD, MA, OTR/L, NBC-HWC

Hands are truly amazing! Hands allow us to do everything from completing routine tasks like opening a door to creating unique masterpieces with a paintbrush. Unfortunately, many people develop the habit of using their hands too much or using one hand more than the other. They use the computer, text on mobile devices, read, drive, cook, and more. This leads to postural stresses and muscle imbalances. Repeated reliance on hands for work and daily living often progresses toward overuse of our upper extremity muscles and joints, which leads to pain and tension.

Awareness and Movement

How can we care for hands when we need them to perform so many tasks? Caring for hands requires moving the whole body in many ways, such as reaching, pushing, pulling, and climbing while actively exploring full end-range movements of hips, spine, shoulders, arms, and hands. Awareness of body positioning is also essential in caring for hands. Ease stress by increasing the variety of movements and changing position every 15–20 minutes. Nurture hands with frequent movement breaks and keep wrists neutral when using any equipment, limiting forceful pinching, gripping, and holding.

Get Rolling

The practice of ball rolling with Small Health Balls helps bring playful attention to capabilities and imbalances, observe movement patterns and postural habits, experience alignment and support, and connect body and mind. Spend a few minutes each day using ball rolling techniques to direct concentrated, comfortable pressure to tender points, which are common areas of chronic contraction in muscles or fascial tissues that may result from poor posture, inflammation, or trauma. Spontaneous rolling and releasing can restore and create healthful, efficient, and balanced movement and function. Learn more about how to employ ball-rolling techniques.

Finding the “Green Zone”

Ball rolling not only helps relieve muscular tension but also corresponds with the release of emotional tension. Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson describes this responsive mode of the brain as the “green” zone. It is characterized by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, with the body calming, repairing, and evoking feelings of gratitude and contentment. In contrast, the reactive mode is known as the “red” zone and defines the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system activation known for fear and aggression. Although both brain modes are natural and necessary, everyday wellbeing and long-term health benefit from leaving “red” and centering in “green” as often as possible.

Register for a Ball Rolling Workshop

Try a ball-rolling workshop to learn how to release tension in hands and the body. This 2-1/2 hour experiential workshop introduces a fun and accessible method for providing self-care for overused hands. Each participant will receive four Small Health Balls and Ball Rolling for Happy, Healthy Hands instructional book to take home after the workshop and discover 25 self-massage techniques to release tension.

 

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