It seems like my hands are visibly aging quicker than I’d like. And they’re often sore. I feel my hands could use some help!
If any part of your body deserves the white glove treatment, it’s your hands. Our hands work very hard for us, and are exposed to more pollutants on a daily basis than any other part of the body. And with 27 small bones, 30 joints, and 37 muscles in each hand, they can certainly become a bit achy. If we don’t address these little pains, we could be looking at bigger problems later on, such as arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a variety of other repetitive stress injuries.
To begin care for the hands, warm up and stretch your hands before beginning your day. Start in the shower, by reaching with energized fingers toward the sky. Stretch your hands throughout the day, and stay mindful of how you sit and stand. Hand discomfort may sometimes be the result of poor posture, which puts strain on the back, neck, and shoulders, ultimately affecting our arms, hands, and fingers. For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome is a swelling of the tunnel just below the wrist, which pinches the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. It’s often caused by repetitive wrist movement, particularly unnatural posturing, or when vertebrae in the neck become misaligned.
To prevent these woes, be vigilant about changing the position of your body and hands when doing repetitive tasks. Take full body stretch breaks, including healthy hand stretches every 10 to 15 minutes. Also consider:
• Interlock your fingers in front of the heart center, then stretch your arms, palms facing away, as far out in front of you as they will go. Feel the lovely stretch throughout your hands and arms. Now raise toward the sky, breathing deeply the whole time. Lower down, then draw the hands back toward the chest.
• Harmony balls—also called health spheres—reduce stress and also stimulate your hand’s acupressure points, muscles, and nerves. They improve blood circulation and energy flow, which in turn build strength and flexibility (I love mine!). Place these two balls inside one hand and revolve them around each other as long and fast as desired. Focus on the melodic chiming sound they make.
• Stress relief or grip strengthener balls are great for stress relief and for developing hand and forearm strength. Keep them in your desk drawer, next to your bed or television, and in your car. This is something so simple that really works!
BE GENTLE ON THE HANDS
We all want silky, youthful hands—and can have them by giving them some devoted and loving attention. Be diligent in protecting your hands. If you use hand sanitizer, make it an organic, non-toxic choice (triclosan free!). EO simply has the best hand sanitizer and soaps. Keep natural hand-washing liquid and nourishing moisturizer at every sink in the house. Carry a small container of moisturizer with you to use. Give yourself a mini hand massage when applying moisturizer. Be present and send healing energy your way. Breathe deeply. Stroke, gently roll, and milk the fingers from base to fingertip. This eases the joints. Massage with small circular strokes through the palm area. Apply pressure to the web area between each finger, lingering with pressure between the thumb and index finger—a powerful acupressure point for alleviating fatigue and pain. Then move onto the soft tissue between the tendons and bones on the back of your hand, moving toward the wrist. This is all about increasing blood and energy flow.
Make it a habit to moisturize your hands often during the day and especially before bed. This is the most effective way to preserve and shield your hands from environmental stressors. My Inara Babassu Body Cream and organic cotton gloves at bedtime get me through the winter months. Here are a few more strategies to keep your hands happy and healthy:
• Have a professional hand treatment in tandem with a manicure. Professional nail technicians or massage therapists offer hand and feet massages that are as relaxing as beautifying.
• A soak in sea or Epsom salts can be quite helpful if your hands are swollen or sore.
• For hands as smooth as silk, soak them in warm organic milk for 5t to 10 minutes (add essential oils as desired). You can do this once a week, if you’d like.
• Rose, Geranium, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon, Lime, Carrot, and Neroli essential oils are all marvelous to nourish and moisturize the skin of the hands. Add 2 to 4 drops to a warm water hand soak or up to 10 drops to the hand lotion or plant oil you use to moisturize and massage your hands.
• Smear organic honey, one of nature’s best moisturizers, over your hands and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Then rinse your hands with warm water.
• Use your body exfoliating product on your hands, as well, encouraging sloughing off of dead skin cells and cellular turnover here too. Other than making my own, Trillium’s Organic Body Polish is my fave rave (an all-in-one skin exfoliator, moisturizer, and protectant).
• Wear gloves whenever appropriate to prevent harming your hands—when gardening, in very cold weather, washing dishes, etc.
At Home Manicure Tip
Soaking your nails daily in a bit of organic sweet almond, coconut, sesame, or olive oil strengthens the nails better than any conventional nail hardener. Lemon, lavender, eucalyptus-peppermint, grapefruit, carrot, rosemary, and cypress essential oils are particularly good for stimulating strong, healthy nail growth.
There are so many wonderful offerings for hands in the organic marketplace. As always, Google away! Also, please see the Organic Spa Magazine blog for my natural carpal tunnel treatment, and some of my favorite recipes for treating hands and nails.