The Beauty and Simplicity of a Hand Massage

Laura and Neave hand massage 2

I decided to write this blog on hand massage as it is such a simple thing to do with friends, family and even colleagues. It can be done anywhere, at a friends house, a coffee shop, even in bed, it’s a great thing to do if visiting some one in hospital or who is bed bound, and you can take as little or as long as you like, even 2 or 3 minutes on each hand would feel lovely. Although it’s such a simple exercise, it can be deeply relaxing, connecting and supportive as well as fun. So here are some tips on how to give a hand massage: Choose a cream, balm or oil blend to use with your partner, you can use my recipes in previous blog posts to make your own cream, balm or massage oil or just use a little olive oil or hand cream, what ever you have handy. Make sure your partner likes the scent of the product you are using, if you have a few options it’s great to get them involved in the choice as smelling the oils/cream already brings them in touch with their body and what they are feeling.

Preparation: The most important thing to prepare here is you! hm

Ensure that you are in a comfortable position that supports you, and does not compromise your body, ensure your partners position is the same.  Be aware you need easy access to their hands and ideally forearms with out stretching, and remember to have your oil somewhere you can easily reach it. You might like to use cushions, move furniture around, get a table for the oil or ask your partner to adjust themselves a little for you, it’s worth taking the time to make the space supportive so you don’t feel stuck half way through with an ache (make sure you adjust if you do).  I usually place a cushion or pillow on their lap with a towel over it so they can rest their arms across it, and only the towel will get oily, but you may need to adapt depending on your partners position and movability.  It’s important to communicate with your partner, to let them know what you are doing so they feel supported and included. Just running through what you’re doing and why, so they know what to expect is enough. You may like to ask if you can remove watches or jewellery, I usually work around rings.

Hand massage workshop

Connection: I start by placing my hands as gently as I can over theirs and give them a few moments to relax. Don’t rush, even if you only have a little time, it will make all the difference if you start by being still and just take a few moments to breath gently in and out through your nose (see here for gentle breath meditation technique). If you notice your partner is very tense or holding their arms very stiff, just encourage them to let go of the tension, ask them to relax their shoulders to allow the hands to let go, if they are very stiff you can ask them to make their arms go floppy.

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Techniques: I then choose one hand to begin massaging, and apply oil to my hands and then massage the oil over the area I intend to cover (so forearm too if this is appropriate and accessible). You can massage both hands at the same time, but I like to do one so I can lift, manoeuvre and support the hand and wrist with the free hand, although I do start and finish by connecting with both hands. I start with long oval circles over the forearms to get the cream/oil applied evenly, I make the moves firm but gentle, flowing and I always make the circles anti-clockwise -a friend once described this as a releasing motion because when you loosen a screw it’s always an anti-clockwise movement, and it is clockwise to tighten it up.

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I like to massage each little finger as delicately as possible, hold their hand and do little circles with it to loosen the wrist, and press into the palm with my thumb in circles. One of my favourite moves is to sandwich the hand between my hands and to very, very slowly slide them off. There are lots of techniques to experiment with, so just do what you feel, stay focused on what you are doing, and connected with your partner. Be playful, ask them what they like and see what you like.

 

Being very gentle does not mean that the massage is less effective than pushing hard,  it feels like I’m allowing and encouraging their body to learn to relax itself, rather than forcing it to with pressure.  If the body can relax itself, then it is more likely to be able to continue this state.

Laura and Neave hand massage 1

Preciousness: As you are face to face to your partner it is easy to talk to them, but keep the conversation related to the moment, how they feel and what their body is saying.  Sometimes just the touch or eye contact is enough, in my experience they often close their eyes and become deeply relaxed. This can be a really precious time with your partner who ever it is.  In the below image I am with my niece, we were only massaging for a couple of minutes but you can tell from the shot it was a magical moment, she also started to give massage afterwards on others and followed my moves perfectly, very beautiful : )

Accessories: A little addition to the treatment that I have come up with recently to support letting the tension in the shoulders go, is using heated healing eye pillows, I just warm them up on the radiator or in a towel warmer, and place them over the persons shoulders before I begin, one on each side across the bits that get very tense and hard – they feel gorgeous! You can buy them from the Lighthouse in Frome, Somerset, UK and from Feather Light Productions website in Australia who also sell a body wrap that I’m about to try out as this will cover the entire shoulder area.  Tension across our shoulders is very common and we can all feel the release as soon as we let go of that tension, so it’s a great way to support this.

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I have been working on community projects for the last couple of years mainly involving hand massages and have had such great feedback from the clients that I have started developing workshops and bringing hand massage to many other situations including at work and home. Most of the photos were taken at a workshop I ran recently, during the time everyone one was giving hand massage (with balms they had just created themselves) the entire room felt completely still, it was absolutely gorgeous.

If you have just 5 minutes with a friend to try this out, I’m sure you will enjoy and feel the difference in your hands and how relaxed you feel. We can be very careless and rough with our hands, so it’s a great way to bring a care and attention back to a part of our body that we use so often.

With thanks to Neave, Molly, Jean, Louisa, Ellen, Kathie, Sonia, Alison, Betty, Heather & David ~ all starring in the photos above.

You might also like to read my blogs on Taking care of your hands, Essential oils in hand & nail care and Myrrh essential oil- supporting connection with my wrists.

How to Use Essential Oils in Hand and Nail Care

How to take care of your hands and nails with essential oils and carrier oils and make your own nurturing nail oil.

I had the most divine manicure and pedicure recently with Shami Duffy from ‘Beauty With Shami‘. I’ve only had two in my life, and the other was with my 6 year old niece, both left me smiling every time I looked at my nails, which is quite often with regards to the ones on my fingers, and so a constant reminder of the really gorgeous time spent together.

I had spoken with Shami about 3 months previously about using vegetable oils and essential oils on the nails as they can be very nourishing and support healthy nails.  It was very inspiring as I had never really considered using oils on my nails, although I had always recommended almond oil to people if they wanted to use something, I hadn’t actually used oils for that purpose myself. I always cut my nails down to the absolute minimum since I had had eczema in the past and wanted to avoid scratch damage, it was also recommended to keep them short when I was studying massage. So, when Shami mentioned how much more delicate you naturally became with longer nails, I decided to experiment and grow my nails a little.  I became much more aware when using my fingers in various ways, for example, shutting doors, lifting things, opening cans etc., and I became more delicate in the way I did these things, which really felt gorgeous.  If I was rough with my hands then it would be more obvious and show me I wasn’t being so delicate, I flipped my nails back a few times which really stopped me in my tracks.

Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.

During the treatment she used a gentle exfoliating cream, using palm grains, which are very fine, so there was no rough feeling on the skin.  My hands looked stunningly bright afterwards.  She then used a massage cream with arnica, lavender and chamomile in to massage my hands and feet, completely divine.  Next was a heat treatment which involved painting my hands and feet with a blend of melted beeswax and macadamia oil with a few drops of frankincense essential oil, which quickly solidified and was left on with some heated socks and mitts for intensive moisturising.  At this point I was so relaxed I was almost sleeping. When the masks were removed she painted my nails and I had the most amazing feeling hands and feet.

Nail oil

Just before I left, she applied a blend of macadamia oil with a few drops of rose essential oil, around the nails and on the skin just before the nails begin to grow. Applying it to this area supports healthy nail growth, as this is where the new nail is being formed.

It is very simple to make your own up and I use a ‘roller’ bottle to dispense the oil, which works in the same way as a roll on deodorant.  It comprises of a small glass bottle, a roller ball top (that releases a little oil across the skin when you pass it over), and a cap.

rolette parts

They usually come in 10ml bottles, and the recipe below is for a 2.5% blend strength, but you can adjust the recipe if needed using the charts on my previous blog post ‘How many drops should I use?’:

Ingredients

5ml organic macadamia oil*

5ml organic almond oil*

2 drops of myrrh essential oil (helps to heal dry, hard and cracked skin)

2 drops of rose essential oil (deeply nurturing, nourishing and hydrating)

1 drop of orange essential oil (to give the scent a lift)

*If you can’t use nut oils due to allergies then I would suggest using organic apricot oil instead.

Instructions

Measure the quantities of base oil (macadamia and almond) and pour directly into the bottle, then drop essential oils directly into the bottle, fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  Myrrh is quite thick and gloopy, so you may see the drop of oil sink to the bottom, so you will need to shake it well to ensure it has mixed through. Roll the oil just under the nails each day, and enjoy. Ensure you put a label on the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

Ingredients to make your own nail oil blend are available to order from my webshop or Click here if you would like to order a ready made nurturing nail oil blend.

Beauty With Shami – Shami Duffy works in Frome, Somerset, and you can contact her using the following email address if you would like to book a session for your hands and feet: beautywithshami@gmail.com

It is a truly nurturing experience, and well worth making the trip, so if you’re not local then I can recommend staying  at The Lighthouse bed & breakfast in Tytherington, near Frome, Somerset: Tel: 01373 453585 Web: www.lighthouse-uk.com

How to Take Care of your Hands with Essential Oils

Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.
Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.

A few years ago I noticed my hands getting a little bit cracked and battered, I have very sensitive and soft skin and it was starting to split around the finger tips from all the bottling and pouring I do at work.  I had experienced this on and off before, but this time I was a little more conscious that it was showing me I hadn’t been taking care of them.  I had stopped using moisturisers on my hands years earlier, as it is an area I’m prone to getting eczema on, and many contain perfume, alcohol and other potential irritants.  But, now they were shouting out for some nourishment, so I made up some simple moisturising creams and ensured there was one in my bathroom, and one at work, so each time I washed my hands throughout the day I gave my hands a little love. I was absolutely amazed that within 2 days, my hands had literally transformed, completely soft and smooth again.  Such a simple addition to my daily routine and of course the action of massaging a lovely cream with essential oils in was another nurturing moment in my day. It was only a short moment after a trip to the bathroom or washing up so it certainly wasn’t taking up a lot of time in my day, but the difference made a huge impact on my day and the way I look after my hands, especially the way I do things with my hands, like unscrew caps, and shut doors, I generally just want to be more careful and gentle with them.

Here are a few blends that I particularly like for the hands; I have specified the number of drops for adding to 100ml container of cream, if you have very sensitive skin then half the amount of drops.

Protective and soothing blend, so great for sensitive skins.

Benzoin 10 drops, mandarin 20 drops and roman chamomile* 6 drops – * avoid with allergies to the daisy family.

Deeply nourishing blend, so perfect for very dry, cracked hands in need of some serious care.

Myrrh 16 drops, palmarosa 10 drops and rose 8 drops

Cleansing and anti-microbial blend, great for really mucky hands.

Lemon 10 drops, lavender 20 drops and rosemary 5 drops

For various sized pots of cream you can refer to the following blog post link to see how many drops you should use: Blending Instructions

Shea butter – for extremely dry cracked hands or hands that are constantly under pressure, you could try using just shea butter. It’s quite thick, so will need warming to soften and spread over the skin, but it has a very nourishing and protective quality. I recommend it to clients that are working consistently with their hands for protection, for example gardeners.

Make your own balm to support and care of your hands, click here for balm recipes.

Make your own natural hand cream using my recipe in the following blog post from my Cream Making Workshop:

I love playing around with different creams and flavours but even choosing a cream you fancy from the supermarket will make all the difference to your lovely, well used, hands and fingers.

Top tips for taking care of your hands:

ALWAYS use washing up gloves when washing up, even if it’s just one cup or spoon, as putting your hands in and out of water especially with washing up liquid in can dry them out! My favourites are from the brand Bizzybee and the ‘luxury household’ type feel absolutely gorgeous inside, it is a real treat putting my hands in them.

Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living
Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living

ALWAYS use gardening gloves when gardening.

ALWAYS be delicate, tender & gentle with your hands.

Click here to read more on how to take care of your nails with nourishing carrier oils and essential oils.

For more support read a beautiful article that helps us recognise what gentleness feels like in our body and asks Why is Gentleness Important?