Soothe: 5 Exercises for Effective Hand Self-Care

Five exercises massage therapists can use to take care of their hands and potentially increase career longevity.

 May 1, 2023

You don’t need to be reminded that caring for your hands is key to career longevity, and you’ve probably heard more than once that you should consider reserving your fingers and thumbs for more delicate work, like around the face.

But unless you never use your hands during a massage therapy session, knowing some simple ways to best care for your digits is a must. Following are a few exercises you can add into your self-care routine to keep your thumbs in top shape.

1. Acupressure

For pain at the base of your thumb, acupressure can be a great way to find some relief. Using the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand, apply firm pressure for 30 seconds to the webbing between your affected thumb and pointer finger.

2. Joint distraction

For sore and swollen thumbs, try grasping the base of your painful thumb with the opposite hand and gently pull. Hold for 30 seconds and release. You should feel some relief.

3. Massage

For general care and relief, try regularly massaging your thumbs. Use you knuckles on the opposite hand to work the entire area before moving to three-second trigger point holds to release the thenar eminence. Pay attention to where the thenar eminence attaches to the thumb bone, too.

4. Ball squeeze

Nothing revolutionary about this exercise, but it’s a great way to help keep your hands healthy. If you don’t have a handheld exercise ball, you can grab a rubber or tennis ball. Hold in the palm of your hand and squeeze with as much power as is comfortable, using the thumb that needs attention. Hold for 10 seconds. If you can, try to do this exercise two to three times a day.

5. Lifts

This exercise is as close to a thumb push up as you’re going to get, but can help keep your thumbs—and other digits—pain free. Lay your hand on a flat service and spread out your fingers. One at a time, lift each finger away from the table as far as is comfortable. Pay particularly close attention to your thumbs and any fingers that are sore. For maximum benefit, try to repeat this exercise two to three times per day.