Are You in Pain?
Massage therapists and other bodyworkers know all too well that their hands, wrists and arms take a real pounding over the course of their careers, with wrist pain being perhaps the most common complaint. Your joints, muscles, ligaments—and your whole body structure—can become misaligned just from doing your everyday work. As a result, your wrists hurt.
In general, massage therapists are quick to say, “Yeah, I’ve got tendinitis. There’s nothing much to do about it. We don’t know exactly what causes it. It just happens.” They leave it at that without digging any further to identify the reasons for that pain.
Here is a simple truth, the acknowledgment of which should be the first step in any self-care regimen for wrist pain and tendinitis: There are always underlying causes for pain.
To work longer and stronger while preserving your own health and well-being, keep these important factors in mind. (Note: If, after trying these techniques, your condition does not improve, a trip to your physician may be required.)
1. Check for Trapped Emotions
In my experience, emotions are at the base of almost all pain, even the most blatantly physical pains and illnesses we encounter. If you are dealing with chronic illness or injury, it is important to ask yourself why. Trapped emotions—emotions that have become lodged in the physical body after traumatic emotional events—may often be the cause.
To test for trapped emotions that may be contributing to your sore wrists, use muscle testing to get a yes or no response. To conduct muscle testing using the sway test:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees relaxed—not locked in place.
- Make a statement that you know to be true, such as stating your name, and observe how your body moves. It should sway slightly forward.
- Now make a false statement, such as saying that your name is something it isn’t. Your body should sway slightly back.
- Use this form of receiving a yes or no from yourself to ask questions about whether you have a trapped emotion and to help identify which area of the body it is in. For example, ask yourself, “Do I have a trapped emotion?” or “Do I have a trapped emotion in my wrist?”
2. Find the Underlying Cause of What Makes Your Wrists Hurt
Western medicine tells us to treat pain, the symptom, to try to stop it. This, however, all too often leaves out the crucial step of identifying the source of the problem. Causes of your wrist pain may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
- muscle strain
- heavy metals
- bones out of alignment
- trapped emotions
Muscle strain and overuse are certainly the most obvious causes, but be sure to look deeper than the answer that is right at the surface. You could have pathogens in your home or work space, such as mold, parasites, bacteria or viruses. All of these result in toxic waste in the body that can create pain and stiffness in joints and muscles. A virus or bacterial infection can cause a low-grade fever, which causes dehydration, and in turn contributes to inflexibility in muscles and tendons.
You could have a bone out of alignment, perhaps not even in the wrist itself. For example, let’s say you are experiencing severe wrist pain when in fact you have a bone that is out of alignment in your neck. Your wrist pain dissipates once the neck bone is back in place. Trapped emotions can sometimes even be the cause of misalignment. (See number 1 above.)
Heavy metals and chemicals can also cause pain and discomfort. We live in a world with extreme toxicity, and toxins can become trapped anywhere in our bodies. Heavy metals from gasoline or pollution in the air as well as chemical additives in food are common culprits.
Parasites are another source to consider, as is mold. Mold in particular is receiving more attention and research lately, and scientists are discovering new ways in which it affects our health and well-being, including causing extreme pain in the body.
The fact is, wrist pain for massage therapists and bodyworkers is often rooted in a combination of factors. Don’t just reach for the most obvious conclusion. Dig deeper to find all the sources of your own pain so you can more effectively address and heal it. Training is available to help you learn tools for self-diagnosis in all of the above areas and more.
3. Examine Your Technique
The very nature of your work involves a deep knowledge and understanding of the body’s structures and tissues and how they function. With this in mind, take a close look at your technique with an eye for anything that might be placing undue strain on the wrists when you could be balancing your body in a different way to relieve pressure. Try to use your elbows more and give your wrists as much of a rest as you can.
4. Incorporate a Stretching Routine
If you haven’t already done so, begin to incorporate stretching into your massage or bodywork routine. Before you start your day and as often as possible between clients, take a few minutes to stretch out your arms, from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers. Healthy stretching can help to warm up the muscles and prevent injury. This is as true for massage therapists as it is for runners.
Bradley Nelson, D.C. (retired), has lectured internationally on the natural healing of chronic illness and successfully treated patients across the U.S. and Canada for more than 20 years. He has trained more than 2,000 practitioners worldwide. His best-selling book, The Emotion Code, offers step-by-step instructions for working with the body’s healing power.