Friday, May 10, 2013

Massage therapy 101 for volunteers and their clients

Step 7
There is nothing better to sooth someone. When visiting my dear friend, Kay, during her last weeks I grabbed some of her hand lotion and massaged her hands. It is not intrusive, and it can be very soothing.
I instinctively gave my late friend, Kay Devlin, a hand massage. She was at end-of-life and her hand were very dry, her skin paper thin. Often, that blue discolouration means loss of liver function.

I didn't have a clue what to do. I've had plenty of hand massages, but I wanted a strategy.

We paid for someone to come into my late father's long-term care to give him hand massage. I wouldn't have known what to do.

I attended a workshop the other day, and learned a great deal. It is something simple and easy to do, while providing company and conversation. You have to be gentle, as often end-of-life care recipients have fragile skin. Use lots of oil, something clean and simple, without a lot of perfume, or other contaminants. The lotion is up to you and your client. You can buy expensive stuff that is hypoallergenic, or use coconut oil, or baby oil.

Firstly, ask permission. Ask if the client has any allergies, and wash your hands before you begin.
Remember not to let go during the process. Good massage therapists know this.
And when you finish, reduce contact until you gradually let go.

STEP 1: Turn the client's hand palm down, with your thumbs, massage from the centre to the outer edges, dividing the hand into three.
STEP 2: Repeat step 1 on the underside of the client's hand, on the palm.
STEP 3: Massage the 3 zones of the hand once each, using your thumb, make small circles. For zone 3, move from the base of the palm upwards.
3 zones
STEP 4: Do a thumb walk, pinching the thumb between your thumb and forefinger, repeat with each of the four fingers doing a finerg walk. Do this once.
STEP 5: Interflangeal Stretch: pinch and smooth the flesh between the flanges (fingers and thumb).
STEP 6: Beginning at the base of the thumb, pull to the tip, pinching, or doing small circles at the end of the thumb. Repeat with each finge, doing a small circle on the fingertip.
STEP 7: Finish off by doing some soothing rubs on the lower arm.
Dawn and Charles learn the technique
STEP 8: Effleurage the lower arm and hand, lightly touch, by using fingertips on the arm, down to the hand. Repeat 3 or more times. As you finish, make your touch lighter each time, until you stop contact. It is best not to stop the touch quickly!

Of course, you can change this to suit yourself and your client. Any touch is most welcome by many clients. You can view many videos that will provide you more details, as long as you can put up with the ubiquitous commercials!
Also, reflexology provides some more information.
Reflexology chart

Dawn, a nurse, has an excellent touch,
but you need not be a pro to give someone a hand massage!

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