Sensing Digits Return As Tense Fingers Relax

I used to love pulling any kind of lace between my fingers as a child. The sensation of having this type of fabric, with all its possible variations, move across the finger webbing and against the sides of the fingers themselves, was comforting. Another wordless feeling – no reason for it if you had asked me, and no really solid descriptions to give for the feeling itself. Yet in thinking about it now, this is a fairly sensitive area that at the same time is always “sensing,” as our hands are generally the first point of contact with the environment. We usually think of the fingertips or the palm with this; the star players. What of the other, less noted areas of the hands, such as the aforementioned webbing? To give specific attention to detailed areas is wonderful to receive, though frequently overlooked in favor of treating larger muscle groups.

Gently compressing the finger webbing, pinching it between your thumb and another finger, a slow dragging pull from proximal to distal, letting each section of webbing between any two fingers come gently free from your grip. Thin at the end of the pull, denser closer to the hand, sometimes stretchy in quality or sometimes tight, short and shallow or with thicker flesh depending on the person’s hands, the webbing is as individual as the hands themselves. On the dorsal side of the hand the webbing can seem so much like tissue paper, while the palmar side has similarity to the sole of the foot, possibly callused from use in the world and protection against it, same time. The digits should have more lightness in their movement after just one pass of this. Taking it deeper, if you move the starting point of the compression in closer, rocking back and forth into the tissue between the base of the fingers, soreness is usually there waiting to be worked out. The recipient might notice being able to splay their fingers apart much wider; hands ready to engage with the world more fully, range of motion increased, and more alacrity in movement.

Given that our hands do an amazing amount of work ongoing, including in that too much keyboard typing, easing tense hands open is a warm, welcome, yet almost forgotten relief. The wonderful thing here is, even if no deeper work is done, simply doing a gentle pull down the finger webbing, letting the client feel how much sensation exists there, and creates lightness through stiff fingers after this simple palliative touch is given. Almost like shaking someone’s hand, briefly being introduced, then leaving a kindness from the exchange to linger hopefully long after.


Copyright © by Lara Stillo 2016



I have been licensed and working full time in the massage therapy field since 2001, teaching and writing MT courses since 2006. My experience has led me through working with several different chiropractors, hotel and boutique spas, corporate massage, a climbing gym wellness center, private practice, two different massage schools, one acupuncture/massage college, and my current capacity of working with physical therapy clinics and their patients. And the learning continues…

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