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 hand and soak them. I felt nothing in my hands after hours upon hours of braiding. I would say for for almost 4 years, my hands will hardly feel tired, ache or even develop a small 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 mini 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 being strained attempting to do hour upon hour of braiding. Plus my fingers are more flexible than the average persons.
Along with my hands went my body but that is another story. Dealing with chronic fatigue and mixing braiding is no joke. But for the average person 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 30minutes at least with oil. Make sure if you do go to a mall massage business. Thats they are not rough with your hand and apply strong pressure. I learned this the hard way and they messed my left thumb up and it gave me trouble for a whole year. Take a magnesium before you go get your massage to help relax your body. even soak your hands in warmest water you can handle before this. My muscles were too tight and when I got it done.
2. Soak your hand 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.
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 helps 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.
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 stop and do something else. Im currently in that position right now. Stopping and starting is no longer helping my hands out.
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. My massage therapist told me "When are you going stop this? (with a French accent). your more prone to arthritis when you do what your doing she told me. I told her I will figure out a way. I currently on a very long break.
Hopefully this blog helps you
Take care :)