Wrist pain can be very uncomfortable and annoying. As a licensed massage therapist, I know too well what wrist pain can feel like and how bothersome it can get.
Luckily I use self-care practices that help alleviate my wrist pain. For those of us who work with our hands, use our wrist often, or find yourself compromising them, this self-care protocol is for you. Massage is a great tool to help alleviate pain, stress, and unwind.
Sadly most people don’t know how to properly self-massage or use self-care, and only when we seek out a professional will we get relief. My goal today is to teach you a couple of simple little self-care tips and protocols you can use for wrist and elbow pain.
We will not discuss carpal tunnel, tendinitis, and any other muscular disorder, this will be a basic and general massage & self-care protocol that can be used on any of these.
The following are protocols I use to alleviate my pain. Some aspects may be more beneficial to others, being that everyone has a different body as well as preference, therefore feel free to modify the protocol to best fit your needs.
First: Cold Water/Ice
Now the first thing I like to do is soak both my wrist and elbow with cold water before I start to work on them. The cold helps to alleviate some pain and inflammation.
If you can’t soak both the wrist and elbow together use ice on the wrist, back of the wrist (posterior hand), and both sides of your elbow (medial and lateral). Soak or ice for 5 to 10 minutes, longer than that can start causing damage.
If you are using ice remember not to place the ice (or ice pack) directly on the skin, this can lead to skin damage if kept on long enough, instead wrap it in a thin towel or paper towel.
Second: Tennis Ball Massage
This next step is simple, just grab a tennis ball, small self-care tool, or you can use your other hand to use on your wrist and forearm. Start at the elbow, rolling the ball towards the wrist or making a circular motion with your fingers.
We are doing two things here, massaging our self and locating an area that is tender/sore. These are spots you will want to focus on later on. As you go down to the wrist make smaller circles, don’t forget to get both sides of the forearm, anterior and posterior.
Use the chart above to help you follow the muscle fibers. Do this for about 5 minutes on each side then locate any tender or sore spots, these spots tend to be located near the elbow. Once you’re on the spot press and hold for about 30 seconds, then do mini circles on the area.
We are lightly treating a potential trigger point that can be causing the wrist or elbow pain, as always massage the other side if any spots were also found. You can use the ball to massage your hand and fingers as well, this feels surprisingly amazing and it’s a great way to finish the arm.
Lastly, finish up by doing some nice gentle tapping with the ball up and down the forearm, you can also do this with a closed fist instead. Try doing this several times a day.
This step will be most helpful for those dealing with elbow pain or tendinitis but also helps alleviate wrist pain. Friction is a massage technique that is very distinct, it involves gently rubbing over a site of tenderness.
When performing friction massage keep your stokes perpendicular, imagine strumming a guitar. First, find the site of tenderness, start at the crease of your wrist then slowly towards the wrist just until you have found the spot and then work on that area. Use gentle, moderate pressure, as massaging the area will cause a bit of discomfort.
The pain or discomfort should feel a bit like a burning or sharp, but bearable. If the pain is lessening or painless, continue down until you reach the wrist. Try to keep the massage under 5 minutes at a time, any more can start to irritate the muscles and tendons.
If this step is too painful, avoid performing friction massage, and likewise if it isn’t enough pressure try adding a bit more. The goal is not to feel pain, keep it at a range of 5 to 7 on a pain scale of 10.
To end the protocol you can either reapply ice or perform a couple of wrist and forearm stretches. If you can do this protocol 3 times a day you will see fast results.
Keeping our wrist/elbow healthy is very important, most of us use a computer and phones for more than a couple of hours a day. This activity can put strain and stress on these muscles and tendons of the arm.
I hope this can help you find relief or total recovery if it did leave a comment. I would love to know your thoughts on this protocol.