Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

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Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby alyssa_grand on Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:58 pm

Hi! I'm Alyssa. I'm thinking seriously about a massage therapy career but I have a few major concerns. I wonder if they are obstacles. My brother is planning to begin massage therapy school later this year and he suggested I join up this forum and post here about concerns I have.

The MAIN concern is my tiny hands!! I am very petite, 5' 1" and 100 lbs. I am currently a pharmacy technician and customers CONSTANTLY comment, "Oh my! Your hands are so cute! They look like a child's hands!" They do :( I have an 8 year old niece and one day I was playing with her. We put our hands against each other and hers were slightly larger!?! Enough said?

I was just discussing this (possible) problem with my brother and he said that his hands are smaller than other men's but he doesn't worry about it for a future in massage therapy, but he's not 100% sure and cannot give me a definite answer. I don't want to waste my time looking into the career if I won't be effective at it.

Can anyone offer opinions? I'm anxious!!

Thanks!!
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby Lflav on Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:30 am

No, I don't think small hands will keep you from being effective. In fact, I think the opposite is true- having big hands makes it harder to get into the smaller places on smaller people. I am 5 foot tall and was 110lbs when i started massaging andhave smallish hands. I have never had any problem doing deep tissue and work with many big guys and athletes. The important thing is that you have the hand/arm strength to keep up with the demands of the job. I would recommend going to the gym or buying free weights to help with strength and prevent injury. Your school should also teach you to use other tools like elbows and forearms to save the joints and muscles in your hands. Good luck with school!
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby squash_blsm on Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:00 am

Very true Lflav!

I don't have huge hands, but when working on children find that even my hands are too big for some of the detailed work (like on the neck for example)

Always good to look at the positives!

And of course in Ashiatsu you use your feet not your hands. :D
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby pueppi on Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:04 am

Also, your tiny hands will change as you work with them. I was just comparing my hands to a gentleman I had on the table the other day. My thenar eminences were huge compared to his. My entire hand was wider, though it was shorter. Most MT's don't have un-muscular or woosie hands. :P

And, as mentioned... you can also use your feet. And, don't forget those forearms. :)
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby Blue on Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:44 pm

I wear a size 4 ring. My hands are the same width as my 7 year old daughter's hands, and my fingers are slightly longer. I am missing a major muscle in each hand (thenar eminence), and I have been doing massage nearly 8 years. Other than the occasional surprised comment from a client regarding how tiny my hands are, it hasn't ever been an issue. Body mechanics, technique, compassion and intent count far more than anything even midly related to body size - or any body part size. I have worked on football players and other athletes doing deep tissue (but not insane pressure, beat 'em up style) massage very effectively. Don't let it worry you!
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby pueppi on Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:59 am

Blue wrote:I wear a size 4 ring. My hands are the same width as my 7 year old daughter's hands, and my fingers are slightly longer. I am missing a major muscle in each hand (thenar eminence), and I have been doing massage nearly 8 years.

Don't let it worry you!


:smt023



03/22/11: edited to add the thumbs-up smiley... somehow it didn't make it in originally.
Last edited by pueppi on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby alyssa_grand on Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:24 pm

Wow!! You guys are all so awesome - thank you ALL!! I'm so psyched now lol. I had such a disappointing day on Saturday because some of my relatives are very negative people. They jumped into the conversation I was having with my brother, uninvited, and said things like, "Why would you want to take a chance on being humiliated?" "What if the other massage therapy students don't want you to work on them because your hands are too small?" "Isn't there something else you could do?" and so many other 'helpful' comments like that :cry: I was very upset but my brother checks out this site a lot and he told me to ignore our family and check with you guys. SO, I have been dreading checking back here to see your answers, but now I'm so happy!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! :D
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby maestra on Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:08 am

You also might want to use the search function of the site to get information about the Forearm Dance video (massage technique).
If your hands are small then you just adapt!
After all I think that's how Ashiatsu got started. It was at the end of a long day & Ruthie Piper Hardee had one more client show up... already tired she improvised by using some bars that were over her table. As I recall reading the story, I think the client said it was the best massage she'd given him. :lol:
The point is, if you want it bad enough, you CAN do it.
I know some of my family was negative about my career in MT too. As a matter of fact the very day I passed my national certification exam, and while I was giving my sister a massage she says to me, "You're never going to make any money at this. I think you should go to school to become a PTA they make $$,$$$ per year." :roll:
Been at it for 13 years or so now...
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby alyssa_grand on Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:22 pm

maestra wrote:I was giving my sister a massage she says to me, "You're never going to make any money at this. I think you should go to school to become a PTA they make $$,$$$ per year."


:shocked:

I know it's not a contest lol but guess what my mom said to me at the dinner table the other night as my brother and I discussed massage therapy school: "I wish you would focus all of these energies on finding a nice, rich man to marry." :evil:

As for my teeny tiny hands - hee-hee - I bought a pair of hand grips today!! As I write this, I'm making up a routine to do daily to strengthen my grip, wrists, and forearms. Well, there's not much of a routine to do, they're hand grips. But I think I will squeeze them one set of my palms facing downward, then facing upward and then maybe hold them squeezed for as long as I can. If anyone has any suggestion on other routines to do with them, I'm all ears (or eyes, I should say ;)

Thanks again to all of you!! I love this board :)
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby JasonE on Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:06 pm

alyssa_grand wrote:
maestra wrote:I was giving my sister a massage she says to me, "You're never going to make any money at this. I think you should go to school to become a PTA they make $$,$$$ per year."


:shocked:

I know it's not a contest lol but guess what my mom said to me at the dinner table the other night as my brother and I discussed massage therapy school: "I wish you would focus all of these energies on finding a nice, rich man to marry." :evil:

As for my teeny tiny hands - hee-hee - I bought a pair of hand grips today!! As I write this, I'm making up a routine to do daily to strengthen my grip, wrists, and forearms. Well, there's not much of a routine to do, they're hand grips. But I think I will squeeze them one set of my palms facing downward, then facing upward and then maybe hold them squeezed for as long as I can. If anyone has any suggestion on other routines to do with them, I'm all ears (or eyes, I should say ;)

Thanks again to all of you!! I love this board :)


That's the spirit! :)

If you want to start a discussion (or read some prior ones) about conditioning your hands and body for doing massage, visit the Self-Care and Body Mechanics section of these forums.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby pueppi on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:59 am

For hand exercises, I kept a "gripper" in my vehicle for years and would squeeze at each stoplight. I also used a handball. The handball may be too big for you, but it's worth a shot.

I believe that you can build the hand strength quite well without too much coming out of your pocket book.

For forearms and wrists, I used weights. Below is a good explanation of what I did:

Forearm Curls
    Forearm curls work the muscles that flex the hands at the wrist joint. Start in a seated position, leaning forward with your forearms on your thighs and hands in front of your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing upward. To perform the exercise, flex your wrists so your palms face toward your body. Then extend your wrists until your palms face forward. Do not swing your body to help move the weights.
Forearm Extensions
    Forearm extensions exercise the muscles that extend the hands at the wrist joint. Perform them just like forearm curls, but start with your palms facing downward.

I also worked the hand/finger extensors:
Resistance Training
    Place a rubber band around all your fingers, including your thumb. Force your fingers to push at the rubber band until your hand is mostly open. Close your hand. Open your fingers against this pressure four more times, then switch hands. Be careful that you do not overstretch the rubber band and snap yourself with it. If one rubber band is too easy for you, then add a second rubber band.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby montanamassage on Sun May 15, 2011 9:16 am

Using hot stones and hot bamboo massage techniques might be something that would work very effectively for you. Bamboo is much easier than stone and is a new technique that is becoming popular. I use it a lot. To get an idea of hot bamboo go to my web page. I have a write up, picutes and video about it.
http://www.benefits-of-massage-therapy. ... ssage.html

Also, with medical/injury/orthopedic massage more detailed work using small tools as in thumbs or fingers are used. Trigger point therapy is also more detailed work.
Good luck.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby AngelaJudy on Tue May 17, 2011 9:17 am

I am 6 ft tall and have large hands, every time I do a couples massage, I usually pass up a petite woman to another therapist. I just feel like I would choke them sometimes, or my finger tips will poke their face while I am working on their shoulders. I definitely don't turn down smaller clients, but when I do have them, I don't feel like I am giving them the most effective massage.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby JasonE on Tue May 17, 2011 8:07 pm

AngelaJudy wrote:I am 6 ft tall and have large hands, every time I do a couples massage, I usually pass up a petite woman to another therapist. I just feel like I would choke them sometimes, or my finger tips will poke their face while I am working on their shoulders. I definitely don't turn down smaller clients, but when I do have them, I don't feel like I am giving them the most effective massage.


Is that how YOU feel, or is that what you THINK those clients are thinking? Have you received any client feedback about your hands? If so, what was it?

Aside from altering the size of your hands, what can you do to improve your ability to work with smaller clients? Have you received some professional guidance yet?

I ask because many people have commented on the size and thickness of my hands, but I don't let them interfere with my work with petite clients and even small children. I don't ever think about the size of my hands; I am constantly figuring out how to better use what I have to provide a better experience and greater results for them. :massage:
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby AngelaJudy on Wed May 18, 2011 7:57 pm

JasonE wrote:
Is that how YOU feel, or is that what you THINK those clients are thinking? Have you received any client feedback about your hands? If so, what was it?


I think it's more of a habit based on how I used to feel. I started my career with sports massage, working on a lot of larger athletic men. Then I switched to a spa setting. I think I just felt awkward, and I did do a little poking until I adjusted to the change, now I just take the larger person out of habit I think. I still smirk when my hand covers half of a tiny persons back. It would be kinda funny if clients chose their therapist based on proportion, or if we were taught that way to think that the best therapist for a client would be one of equal size. :)
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby JasonE on Mon May 23, 2011 8:25 pm

AngelaJudy wrote:
JasonE wrote:
Is that how YOU feel, or is that what you THINK those clients are thinking? Have you received any client feedback about your hands? If so, what was it?


I think it's more of a habit based on how I used to feel. I started my career with sports massage, working on a lot of larger athletic men. Then I switched to a spa setting. I think I just felt awkward, and I did do a little poking until I adjusted to the change, now I just take the larger person out of habit I think. I still smirk when my hand covers half of a tiny persons back. It would be kinda funny if clients chose their therapist based on proportion, or if we were taught that way to think that the best therapist for a client would be one of equal size. :)


It would be unfortunate for all concerned. Do what you can to prevent this from happening. It is not your hands that are the issue, but rather your feelings about what you are most comfortable with. Trust yourself and you will do good work. :massage:
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my 2 cents

Postby SaraZWalker on Tue May 24, 2011 3:24 am

Think the size does not matter

You will develop a great technique that will work for you. Don't be negative. As others said, the best (and I believe few do) use their forearms and elbows) to add to the massage. If you are doing hot stones, then your hand size is really immaterial.

Have a positive attitude. Remember touch is healing and develop your own touch. If you doubt yourself, it will show.

As for being petite, there are lots of ways around this from lower tables, stands, kneeling on the table.

You will be great.
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Re: Will my tiny hands keep me from being an effective MT?

Postby AngelaJudy on Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:03 pm

JasonE wrote:
AngelaJudy wrote:
JasonE wrote:
Is that how YOU feel, or is that what you THINK those clients are thinking? Have you received any client feedback about your hands? If so, what was it?


I think it's more of a habit based on how I used to feel. I started my career with sports massage, working on a lot of larger athletic men. Then I switched to a spa setting. I think I just felt awkward, and I did do a little poking until I adjusted to the change, now I just take the larger person out of habit I think. I still smirk when my hand covers half of a tiny persons back. It would be kinda funny if clients chose their therapist based on proportion, or if we were taught that way to think that the best therapist for a client would be one of equal size. :)


It would be unfortunate for all concerned. Do what you can to prevent this from happening. It is not your hands that are the issue, but rather your feelings about what you are most comfortable with. Trust yourself and you will do good work. :massage:


Thanks for making me realize the flaw in my habitual thinking. It's always good to see things from another point of view. :D
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