A warm-up sequence for wrists and hands before practising complimentary therapy –
As Complimentary Therapists, it’s important to warm-up before starting a day of treatments. Back-to-back bookings can take a real toll on our posture, shoulders, arms and hands. It’s important we are aware of this so that we can take the best care possible. We all want a long and happy career in our chosen field.
When thinking about a warm-up routine; realistically, it doesn’t have to be as intense as a pre-workout warm-up. However, it does need to sufficiently prepare our muscles and joints for movement and weight-bearing pressure.
Warming-up before a treatment offers many benefits, including:
- An increase in blood flow to the muscles that will be supporting the treatment (e.g. shoulders, wrists, elbows, fingers etc.). This improves coordination and tactile skills.
- Loosening the muscle tissue, which will bring a better range of motion, comfortably, encouraging a safe practice.
- A connection and awareness of the body and the places that will work during the treatment (e.g. thumbs, elbows etc). This awareness will keep us bright during the treatment, so if we feel any niggles that could result in injury, we can catch them in time to treat, allowing for a longer and safer career in complementary therapy.
- Gently heating the muscles, providing elasticity and preventing injury.
- Preparing the joints so that they can work longer and more comfortably.
As well as checking in with our posture and alignment during a treatment, awareness of the big muscle groups (such as shoulders and core) are just as important as the smaller, more intricate muscles groups in the wrists and hands. There are many stretching options that could be useful pre-treatment and it’s important for each therapist to use their intuition to feel what type of movements and stretches best prepares their body for their chosen therapy.
We have put together some exercises for the wrists and hands to help warm-up these areas before starting a complementary therapy treatment.
Try including these in your existing warm-up routine and see if you notice any changes to your wrist and hand health during the day.
Movement 1: Wrist circles
Circle both wrists in one direction and then the other 5 times, breathing slowly.
Movement 2: Wrist stretching (underside)
Pull back on the fingers to stretch the underside of the forearm and wrist. Hold for two deep breathes and then release and shake out the hands to bring back blood flow.
Movement 3: Wrist stretching (top)
Pull your fingers gently into the underside of the forearm to feel length on the top of the forearm and wrist. Hold for two deep breathes and then release and shake out the hands to bring back blood flow.
Movement 4: Weight-bearing wrist and shoulder circles
Come to hands and knees on the floor. Align your shoulders over your wrists so that the bones are stacked and supported. Start to circle your shoulders over your wrists, slowly and mindfully. Repeat x 5 times in one direction and then x 5 times in the other direction. Release and shake out the hands to bring back blood flow.
Movement 5: Weight-bearing wrist stretches
Come to hands and knees on the floor. Align your shoulders over your wrists so that the bones are stacked and supported. Turn your hands out 90 degrees (or thereabouts’) and start to move your shoulders side to side, leaning into one hand and then into the other. Be mindful and slow as you do this. It will stretch the underside of the wrist as well as warm up the forearms. Repeat 5 – 10 times. Release and shake out the hands to bring back blood flow.
Movement 6: Weight-bearing wrist, forearm and hand stretches
Come to hands and knees on the floor. Align your shoulders over your wrists so that the bones are stacked and supported. Turn one hand back 90-180 degree (whatever is available in your range of motion). Hold for 3 slow breathes and release. Come to the next hand, repeat and breathe. You can do this 3 or 4 times, gently stretching the wrist and forearm. Release and shake out the hands to bring back blood flow.