FIRST Hand volunteers learn proper massage techniques to better serve patients.
Contributed By Lee Wei Fang
Massage. Just the word brings on a mood of tranquility, relaxation and comfort. Who doesn’t love a good massage at the end of a hard day’s work? At the hands of experts, knotted muscles are smoothened out as deft fingers work their magic on tired hands and feet. The smell of aromatherapy oils takes away the edge of stress and anxiety, and the soul is rejuvenated.
That is the soothing power of massage, and FIRST Hand volunteers are bringing it to hospital wards.
FIRST Hand is a branch of local community service provider, City Harvest Community Services Association. Its volunteers reach out to patients with HIV/AIDS, conducting both ward, as well as home visitations on a weekly basis. Depending on the patient’s needs, volunteers of the wards massage the patient’s feet and lower legs with aroma oils, to help stimulate the muscles, aid blood circulation and bring comfort.
On June 4, FIRST Hand organized a mini-massage workshop for 12 of their regular volunteers, to help them improve their massage techniques and knowledge. Stella Goo, a professional massage therapist with 10 years of experience, conducted the workshop. Goo is well-versed in massage techniques, having personally served about 200 patients. She also practices at a private medical institution. Additionally, she teaches massage techniques at the Women’s Initiative for Aging Successfully or WINGS, equipping many women with massage skills.
The workshop was light-hearted, informative and enjoyable for the volunteers as they got to experience what good massage technique feels like. Said Goo, “In massage, the feelings of the receiver are more important than that of the person giving the massage. You may feel you are giving a good massage, but the important question is: does the receiver feel the same way?”
Goo went on to demonstrate proper techniques for massage, getting the volunteers to practice on one another to master the technique. Some volunteers also demonstrated their current massage techniques on Goo, so that she could correct them where necessary.
Interestingly, different parts of the human body correspond to a certain area in the hands and feet. Goo taught the volunteers some quick techniques to relieve common symptoms such as fatigue, constipation and insomnia. A firm believer in the importance and power of massage, Goo shared that massage can be likened to an investment, with guaranteed benefits to self.
The session ended with a live demonstration by Goo on how to use massage to ease tension in the shoulder and neck areas. Her lucky volunteers could feel the results at once. Equipped with newfound knowledge and skills, the 12 FIRST Hand volunteers are now looking forward to visiting patients in the coming weeks.
Some useful massage tips.
• When massaging, one should not hold the joint of the area requiring the massage (i.e. ankle or wrist), but support it instead, to allow continued blood circulation. A common mistake is grabbing the joint for a better grip, but it is actually not necessary with proper technique.
• Use circular upward motions. If massaging the leg, massage from the ankle to the knee, and if massaging the arm, massage from the hand to the elbow.
• Circular motions employed can vary between small, medium and large movements, depending on the receiver’s preference.
• Always wash your hands before a massage, and warm your hands up by rubbing them together, so that the receiver will feel more comfortable.
• A helpful tip: after a massage, use a hand-rub to disinfect hands, and avoid washing hands immediately as such a practice cools the hands too suddenly, causing pain in the long run.
• Perfect practice makes perfect, not just practice alone! Make sure you have the correct technique when you massage.
• The receiver can actually sense your mood during the massage, so avoid giving massages if you’re in a bad mood that day.
• A hard massage does not necessarily equate to a good massage, so go easy on the pressure. If your hands ache after the massage, you’re putting too much strength into it.