This month at Willow Tree, we are "extending our branches" and exploring new things. From a bodyworker's perspective, our arms and hands are our branches--reaching out to experience the world around us. But chronic pain and discomfort in our arms and hands can prevent us from exploring outside our normal daily habits. Becoming aware of the habits that cause repetitive strain or tension is the first step. These can include long hours at a desk or on a computer or something like gripping the steering wheel too tightly while driving. Once you are aware of these daily activities, take action to "un-do" them: shake out your hands if they've been tightly gripping something or take a movement break while at your desk to roll your shoulders up, back and down. If you spend long periods working on a computer, read through and follow along with the stretch below...
First Aid for Your "Mouse Arm" (courtesy of Mary Bond, a fellow Structural Integration practitioner)
This practice stretches the pathway through which the nerves to your hands run. Stand sideways to a wall and about two feet away from it. Place your right hand on the wall with the heel of your hand at the level of your armpit and your elbow slightly bent. Spread your fingers so that every possible millimeter of skin on your palm and fingers touches the wall. Breathe slowly and moderately. Adjust your arm position by rotating it so that your elbow points directly down at the floor. In this position, you should feel a breadth across your clavicles. You may also begin to feel a burning sensation through your arm as the stretch releases fascial adhesions that have been trapping the nerves. Breathe! Keep your fingers flat against the wall. Tolerate a moderate degree of the burning sensation while holding the stretch for at least three slow breaths. When you release your hand from the wall, pause to notice the after effect. The arm you stretched will probably seem longer than the other one. Be sure to stretch both arms to even out the shoulders. Practice this stretch during breaks in your work, especially after a long session on the computer. Work up to sustaining it for eight slow breaths.
Kelly Freeman has been studying massage and bodywork for over 10 years, passionately pursuing an understanding of the human body. She received her training at The National Massage Therapy Institute in Delaware and studied Structural Integration at Kinesis in Maine, studying with some of the top leaders in manual and movement therapy. Kelly is skillful in multiple bodywork modalities with advanced training in Structural Integration, Neuro Mobilization, and Visceral Manipulation. Drawing on her extensive education and experience, Kelly is dedicated to providing a personalized, whole body approach to wellness for her clients.