What is a Hand Massage?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A hand massage is a massage that specifically targets the muscles in the hands. It may be used alone or experienced along with a longer massage that includes the upper back and/or arms, or a full-body massage. This type of massage can be especially useful for people who spend a great deal of time working with their hands, and it can also provide relief for people who spend many hours a day at a computer keyboard.

The muscles in the hand are specifically targeted in a hand massage.
The muscles in the hand are specifically targeted in a hand massage.

It is common for massage therapists to use reflexology techniques while performing hand massages. Reflexology is an alternative therapy that relies on the belief that certain points on the feet, hands, and ears correspond to specific organs and areas within the body. According to these principles, applying pressure to specific points on the hands can help to relieve pain and assuage some ailments in the corresponding body parts. Reflexology also promotes general good health and improved circulation throughout the body.

Hand massages are often part of a manicure.
Hand massages are often part of a manicure.

A hand massage is a good alternative for those who are uncomfortable having a full-body massage but would still like to experience the relaxation and health benefits that one can offer. To experience this kind of spa treatment, it is not necessary to remove any articles of clothing unless, for some reason, the person happens to include gloves in her daily attire. Furthermore, the massage can be enjoyed while sitting in a comfortable chair, which is an attractive feature to some people who feel vulnerable while lying down on a massage table.

A small amount of lotion is needed for a hand massage.
A small amount of lotion is needed for a hand massage.

Some spas include hand massages in their manicure treatments, and it can often be added to a manicure for an additional fee. Furthermore, these kinds of massages are usually available to both male and female clients. Some spas offer them to clients while they are resting with a face mask.

While these massages can be enjoyed at a spa, they are a lovely way to relax at home. Trading massages with a partner can be a very nice way to relax or wind down after a long or stressful day. Hand massages can be enjoyed almost anywhere: at home, while taking a break during the work day, and even while traveling. All that is required is a bit of hand lotion and a partner or friend who is willing to help.

Lotion is applied to the hands during a massage.
Lotion is applied to the hands during a massage.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


Is it necessary to go to a massage therapist for healing hand massage? Can I do it myself if I just look at the pressure points from a reflexology chart?


@allenJo-- I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I agree with you, massage helps a lot. My doctor was the one who suggested this to me. He said to have my husband or daughter massage my hands starting from the fingers and moving towards my wrists.

I don't know why massaging towards the fingers is bad for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, I've been having my daughter massage my hands for about five minutes every day and the pain has gotten a little less. I wish there were hand massage tools available so that I wouldn't have to rely on someone else though.


I won a free facial at a spa once and it was such a pleasant surprise when I found out that the facial included a mini hand massage.

It wasn't a very extensive massage and I don't think the girl was a certified massage therapist, but she still seemed to know what she was doing. She basically used her thumbs and massaged the inside of my palms in upward movements. She finished up by lightly massaging my fingers.

It actually felt really good and it was very relaxing. I generally enjoy facials a lot, but the hand massage was definitely the best part about this facial. I might go for a full hand-massage at a massage parlor sometime.

Has anyone gotten an extensive hand massage by a massage therapist? What did you think about it?


@allenJo - One of the most effective hand massage techniques is to keep the hand all the way open, and then in circular motions apply a massage all around the hand on the palm. Then turn your hand over and do the same for that side.

Finally, massage the section between the thumb and the index finger. This is where your store a lot of tension especially if you type a lot.

I follow these techniques and have been able to minimize a lot of the pain that I usually get while typing. This is very important for me as I type all day.


I lived in Asia for some time and did a lot of walking around with bare sandals. After awhile my feet got really tired and I went to a local country club and got a foot massage. Actually they claimed to be using reflexology.

I was shown a chart with all the pressure points on the foot and the parts of the body they corresponded to. I was given the foot massage and it was one of the most relaxing treatments I’ve ever received; it made my whole body feel alive.

I can’t vouch for whether it had any particular curative powers for my body as a whole, but it did make me feel much better, and thereafter I made it a part of my weekly regimen.


@allenJo - I do the same thing except that I use battery powered hand massagers. These units operate in a gyroscopic manner to apply deep massage to the pressure points, and they can be set to varying degrees of intensity. The unit I have also has a heat switch which really helps too.


I had carpal tunnel syndrome for some time and experienced tremendous relief by applying kneading hands massage therapy. I apply massage to three points in my palm: near my thumb, opposite the thumb but near the wrist and on the upper part of my palm. Basically these three pressure points form a triangle on my palm.

What this does is to release the tension on the muscles that are pressing against the median nerve. As these muscles are relaxed, I felt less pressure in the carpal tunnel and I could type more freely.

This massage basically mimics what happens in a carpal release, which is a surgical approach that physically widens that area pressing on the median nerve. However, you can accomplish the same results using massage therapy techniques, and avoid surgery altogether.

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