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Healthy Hands and Arms Part 2: Benefits of Using The Abacus
Craig Olschansky
Healthy Hands and Arms Part 2: Benefits of Using The Abacus
By Angela Kneale, OTD, MA, OTR/L, NBC-HWC
This is a 3-part series written by Kneale on the Gelliflex Abacus.

Who best benefits from using the Abacus?

Everyone with hands and arms can benefit from self-massage with the Gelliflex Abacus! Over time, many of us develop unhealthy habits of using our hands too much and the rest of our bodies too little. Also problematic is our tendency to use one hand more excessively than the other. The repetitive nature of everyday life often leads to repeated movement patterns – employing the same hand muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments again and again.

Many professionals benefit from using the Abacus, including dentists, surgeons, athletes, musicians, eSports athletes, artists, machinists, mechanics, construction workers, massage therapists, and many others who routinely rely on their hands and arms for imperative and repetitive career activities. And although repeated hand motions may be required for our work tasks, any manual activity that involves repetitive movement may lead to patterns of overuse – even our favorite passions and activities, such as participating in sports, playing a musical instrument, knitting, painting, or playing video games.

Is the Abacus beneficial for people with tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow?

If you have a painful or debilitating hand, wrist, or arm condition, it’s best to get specific guidance from a medical professional. People diagnosed with tennis or golfer’s elbow should follow recommendations from their physicians and physical or occupational therapists to increase strength and mobility, and prevent any recurring injuries. Professional treatment focuses first on easing pain, then adding massage, stretching, and strengthening to improve function.

People with elbow pain symptoms often use their forearm muscles in repetitive, vigorous ways. Self-massage with the Abacus provides convenient access to self-treatment – forearm rolling and compression helps release tension, restore gliding of muscles and fascia, increase movement, and improve function of the forearm, elbow, and wrist.

How is the Abacus used for thumb and finger issues?

Our human hands demonstrate unique flexibility in our thumbs and fingers. About 40% of the hand’s function is attributed to our remarkable thumb. Unfortunately, with increasing use of electronic devices – texting, keyboarding, and electronic gaming – many people experience thumb and finger issues and may benefit from consulting a medical professional for symptom management and ergonomic recommendations.

The Abacus supports numerous self-massage techniques for the thumb and fingers. Squeezing the gel-balls with your fingers and thumb helps strengthen and improve hand function, while increasing circulation and lymphatic flow. Slow, gradual rolling of the thumb and fingers releases tightness and tension, and restores gliding of muscles and fascia tissues. Compression with the gel-balls provides slow, gentle, sustained pressure to assists release of tension and increased hand function, improving hydration and mobility of muscles and fascia. 

References

Cooper, C. (2014). Fundamentals of Hand Therapy: Clinical Reasoning and Treatment Guidelines for Common Diagnoses of the Upper Extremity (2nd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier. 

Field, T. (2014). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20, 224–229.

Field, T., Diego, M., Delgado, J., Garcia, D., & Funk, C. G. (2011). Hand pain is reduced by massage therapy. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 17, 226–229.

Kunikata, H., Watanabe, K., Miyoshi, M., & Tanioka, T. (2012). The effects measurement of hand massage by the autonomic activity and psychological indicators. Journal of Medical Investigation, 59, 206–212.

Mohr, E. G. (2010). Proper body mechanics from an engineering perspective. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 14, 139–151.

Niel-Asher, S. (2014.) The Concise Book of Trigger Points: A Professional and Self-Help Manual (3rd ed.). Chichester, England: Lotus Publishing.

Schleip, R. & Baker, A. (Eds.) (2015). Fascia in Sport and Movement. Edinburgh, Scotland: Handspring Publishing.

Wilgis, E. F. Shaw (Ed.) (2014). The Wonder of the Human Hand: Care and Repair of the Body’s Most Marvelous Instrument. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

 

About The Author: Angela Kneale, OTD, MA, OTR/L, NBC-HWC, is an occupational therapist, health and wellness coach, Franklin Method® educator, and certified Stott Pilates® instructor. Professional experience includes industrial rehabilitation, employee wellness, and treatment of individuals with chronic pain, physical disabilities, and neurological issues. The author of eight books, Angela specializes in the integration of movement, breathing, postural alignment, and relaxation techniques for optimal health and wellbeing. Visit her website EmbodyHealthWellnessLife.com.