The kiss of death..
I went through it and currently am still healing from it. I will help you with avoiding these issues.
Once upon a time, when I didn't massage my hands and soak them warm water. I felt nothing in my hands after hours upon hours of braiding. I would say for for almost 4 years, my hands would hardly feel tired, ache or even develop a finger cramp. I felt like a beast, never had to have a hand massage, why bother I was doing fine.
Then one day I noticed I started having finger cramps and some soreness after braiding. My right index finger started feeling stiff and I would wake up and feel like my hand muscles were tight. Then in early 2019, my joints starting aching, I was having trouble opening bottles, my thumb was sore. It all started going down hill. After a hand clinic session thinking I had arthritis and that I would have bent ugly fingers because of braiding. I was told I still had pretty good hand strength, but I had over used my hand muscles to a point where they just needed a break. My joints were inflamed and tired of the long hours of braiding.
Here are some steps to help you have longevity in the braiding game.
1. Always get a hand massage at least every 2 weeks for 30mins with oil. Make sure if you do go to a mall massage business. That they are not too rough with your hands and that they do not apply strong pressure. I learned this the hard way. Take magnesium before you go get your massage to help relax your body. even soak your hands in warmest water you can handle before this.
2. When you do soak your hands in the warmest water your can handle, make sure to add in some epsom salt. You do this after each braiding session or at least the next day if your too tired from a session.
3. You can use coconut oil and eucalyptus oil to not only massage your hands but also your forearms.
4. Learn some hand stretches exercises that are simple and quick. Do this before your session to help warm up your muscles for the work that will be done. And do this after your hands are soaked to.
5. Supplement with Magnesium, minerals and collagen to keep your bones and muscles keep strong and help them recover quicker.
6. You can even use anti-flam cream after your braiding session, if you do not have the time to soak.
->I always braided every other day, so that I had the next day to recover.
Another tip before a braiding session. Is to use heat on your hands by putting your hands under the hottest tap water you can handle without it being uncomfortable. Do that for at least a minute or 2 and you will find you speed will be there from the get go.
But remember, everybody's body is different. So people can braid for 20 years and have very minimal aches and pains. Some people have an end date and can only braid for a period of time until its best to either stop or limit how much they braid. Im currently in that position right now.
As a braider you will know when your time is up and whether you can go on for a longer period of time. I want to make sure you are informed about what braiding is and how it can affect your body. There are many articles out there for Hairdressers but nothing for braiders.
Treat your body with care and love and it will work for you and not against you. Massage therapists, physios etc have their own team of people behind them that they work with to keep their bodys in top form. Your body wasn't made to do repetitive movements for such long periods of time. you are more prone to arthritis and muscular issues when you are in the hair industry. So best to be fighting fit while doing it
Hopefully this blog helps you
Take care :)