The Base of the Thumb – A Large Small World


Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy having their hands massaged? Let’s do a simple one for the thumbs (talk about an overworked area). Think of this as a very small road trip, a tiny but effective exploration. – Take the thumb tip of one hand, place it on the medial  or inner side of the thumb joint on the opposite hand. Stroke it down along that inner edge of the thumb’s metacarpal bone, following it along to where the bone ends. Then turn a right angle to trace inward along the palm’s base, moving toward the center of the hand, still staying low along the base of the hand. It’s simply two short, firmly pressed lines, tracing the outer edge of the thenar eminence, yet these two brief strokes do help to move tension out from the area – and it feels really good! A lot of tension can sit around that edge, in our usually over-used thumbs. Notice spots that are tender, tighter, or even gritty in muscle texture; the left and right hand will probably feel different from one another. Grouping the forefinger, middle, and ring fingers together is a nice alternative to using the thumbs here. With this broader point of contact, you can use these three finger tips to apply strokes from the thumb joint down across the thenar eminence, to the base of the hand right above the carpal/wrist bones. A nice break from the computer, allowing a space for “zoning out,” exploring this small area with simple, focused strokes. 

What are we feeling in there, besides tension or soreness? Applying the above simple strokes explores along the abductor pollicis brevis, the flexor pollicis brevis, and the opponens pollicis muscles. Along with the soft tissue, there’s also the carpometacarpal joint at the thumb, the first metacarpal bone, and a little of the trapezium in the wrist –  all the aforementioned in this small space, receiving needed touch, and working hard and ongoing for us as we move through the world. The complexity of human anatomy seems never-ending, and still our learning about it continues. The power of simple but focused touch seems even more of a universe; constantly new, every time, and so often without words to explain how it feels. You don’t need to know the anatomy of the area to appreciate massage here, though it does help to grow our appreciation of what we are and what we have. The more over-worked or stressed any given region of the body is, the more we seem to expand and let go once these areas are addressed with care and attention. So work on your own hands, or offer this gift to another. Allow yourself to notice in receiving this touch, how a stillness can rise above the noise, and a quiet can grow deeper within.


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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