Double Jointed Massage Therapists

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Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby AngelaJudy on Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:35 am

I wasn't sure if I should post this in Research, or Tools of the Trade, but here it goes.

I have an IC who is double jointed. She gives a great deep massage and gets so many compliments from clients. I am happy to have her on my team. I later realized she was double jointed and began noticing when she gives me massages that sometimes instead of pressure being applied with thumb pads, it is coming from the joint below it. Then we talked about it and she says sometimes when she is using the tip of her thumb, she really has to brace it so it doesn't flex backward. Then I asked her if her thumb muscles were really strong because I could see how they would work harder to flex from the hyper extended state, her thumb muscles are huge! Is anyone else here double jointed and finds that it helps or causes trouble with giving massage?
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby Taoist on Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:40 pm

AngelaJudy wrote:I wasn't sure if I should post this in Research, or Tools of the Trade, but here it goes.

I have an IC who is double jointed. She gives a great deep massage and gets so many compliments from clients. I am happy to have her on my team. I later realized she was double jointed and began noticing when she gives me massages that sometimes instead of pressure being applied with thumb pads, it is coming from the joint below it. Then we talked about it and she says sometimes when she is using the tip of her thumb, she really has to brace it so it doesn't flex backward. Then I asked her if her thumb muscles were really strong because I could see how they would work harder to flex from the hyper extended state, her thumb muscles are huge! Is anyone else here double jointed and finds that it helps or causes trouble with giving massage?

My thumbs are double jointed and it's a PITA. Well, PITT (pain in the thumb) actually ;) . I have to be extremely careful when I'm using my thumbs to not hyperextend that proximal joint. I will often take my other hand and place the pads of my fingers on that fleshy part of my thumb with my index finger supporting the distal joint so I have a supported thumb tool. It not only helps my hands, it allows me to apply more pressure in a very small area for which my elbow might be too big.

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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby riversinger on Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:43 pm

I'm double jointed as well. When I was in massage school & just starting out it was more of problem then. Since that time I think my hands have become very strong & I automatically lock in the straight position in my thumbs, so it's pretty much a non-issue anymore. However I use the heel of my hand, or knuckles, etc. whenever possible as well so as not to overload those thumbs either! All that said I developed a trigger thumb condition several months ago and have to be careful to work more consciously then ever with the right hand - as it gets locked into a bent position quite frequently now. I can work on it & straighten it out after a fashion - but the tendon involved seems to pull it back down again. Not interested in doing the surgical fix, so I may be stuck with this!
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby JasonE on Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:21 pm

Yes, I have "hitchhiker's thumb" in which the distal joint is able to bend backwards up to 90 degrees. If I mind my body mechanics and don't overrely on thumb pressure, it's not an issue. I also have learned many no-thumbs techniques and several modalities that eliminate most/all need for thumb pressure. I have occasionally found the hypermobility of my thumb to be a handy asset, but certainly not a necessary one.
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby GrtHndSC on Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:20 am

I've been a double jointed therapist for 20 years and after all that work, my right thumb is giving me problems. I've compensated a lot of ways over the years, but now the wear and tear seems to be taking a toll. I'm going to try some KT taping and topical analgesic to see if I can calm it down on my own. It's been hurting on and off for awhile, but really got bad when I played a throwing game with my grandson. So, take care of your thumbs! Because you can get away with it now, does not mean you aren't doing some damage.
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby peacenut on Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:05 pm

Interesting article about research done in the 50's and 60's about hitch hiker's thumb. http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/myththumb.html

I don't like the term 'double jointed'. I refer to it as having hypermobile joints. I have always had very limber joints. As I grew older, I noticed by my late 20's, my fingers, hands, and wrists weren't as flexible as they were in my youth. I used to take great pride in popping my joints and grossing out my friends and family, call it a parlor trick. lol... I still do it on occation. I could make all sort of bendy shapes with my fingers. I could make circle shapes with my fingers and look through them like glasses. My pinkies are the most flexible and I can easily bend them each into a half circle shape. I find my fingers most limber after a few hours of massage.

I do a lot of bracing when I use my thumbs. I also find myself using my knuckles quite a bit, especially on the soles of the feet. I have been practicing with little to no problem for practically 10 years now. My natural range of motion in my fingers, hands, and wrist are much greater than the average person. It doesn't mean it will cause me problems. There are plenty of people out there with pain in their hands who do not have hypermobile joints.
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby Shibaz on Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:59 pm

Interesting topic, and one that is very timely for me. I'm in massage school, getting ready to finish up our Swedish class, and I'm starting to have thumb problems in my right hand.

I never knew there was something called "hitchhiker's thumb" and I don't consider myself double-jointed, but I do have quite flexible fingers/thumbs, and certainly from looking at the thumbs in the pics in the link above (thanks for that link!) I do in fact fall into the "hitchhiker's thumb" group.

It stared being a problem a few weeks ago, when my teacher noticed it and kept reminding me not to hyperextend my thumb in particular or my fingers in general. Except I realized I didn't know how NOT to hyperextend them--esp the thumb--as it seems to do that on it's own! Not to long after that, though, (since we started working the back) I realized my right thumb was sore enough that even lightly brushing it against something would make it ache. (I do suspect there is a touch of arthritis in my thumb and hands in general, which probably exacerbates the problem. Even before beginning massage, my hands would often ache in the joints. Sometimes using them actually makes them feel better!)

My teacher takes this very seriously of course, and now is getting me icing my thumb after I do any practice and also made some suggestions about using fingers rather than my thumb, but what I'm wondering is how can I work on NOT hyperextending it, when that seems to be it's natural state? I did a practice yesterday where I braced it with a finger when I used it to keep it from hyperextending, which was bit awkward, but worked.

What do people with hypermobile joints do to keep from hyperextending their fingers/thumbs?
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby pueppi on Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:39 am

Shibaz wrote:What do people with hypermobile joints do to keep from hyperextending their fingers/thumbs?


FWIW, over the years I have just worked on "locking" all of my individual finger joints, with the idea in mind that I don't *want* them to bend backward. I've never been truly double jointed, but my fingers used to have a tendency to extend quite well.

It's hard to describe, but it's an activity where I make my fingers hard and straight, while adding a little tiny bit of flexion to them.

I have extraordinary fingertip strength, so I think this may have been where it came from over the years. That, and when I was younger I would do fingertip push-ups. I also would use a tennis ball to squeeze and a hand grip work out tool an awful lot. I am not sure if those did anything to help the actual fingers, but possibly.

On the hitchhiker thumb picture link, I am the 4th from the bottom, so you get an idea.
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby PremoMT on Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:38 pm

I don't have a hitch hiker thumb, but I found a tool that works well to provide deep pressure with the thumbs without stressing the distal joint. its called the "thumb saver" and MW carries them I have adjusted my practice to incorporate more palm, and elbow pressure and this has helped, but i still have a few who prefer the thumb, and I pull the saver out every time.
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Re: Double Jointed Massage Therapists

Postby JasonE on Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:29 pm

pueppi wrote:
Shibaz wrote:On the hitchhiker thumb picture link, I am the 4th from the bottom, so you get an idea.


The bottom image shows what my thumbs can do. I am careful with them. Like Pueppi, I have cultivated strong hands over time, but still mind how I use them at work.
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