By Kristin Coverly and Mark Lees, PhD
[Ask the Experts]

Can I ask my massage therapist what he found during our session—which areas were tight and needed extra work?

Absolutely! Your massage session should be just as educational as it is beneficial. It’s helpful for you to know what your chronic holding patterns are and be made aware of new areas of tension or tight muscles. Your therapist may even be able to help you identify postural habits or behaviors that are contributing to the problem. If your massage therapist isn’t in the habit of sharing that information with you after each session, feel free to ask for it. Knowing this information will also help you give a more informed update at the beginning of your next session and together the two of you can focus on addressing your areas of need with common language and goals!

Kristin Coverly, LMT, is a massage therapist and educator for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

Winter is playing havoc with my hands. What is your best advice to help my chapped, cracked hands?

The real key in improving hand skin is consistent use of a good hand cream. Because hands do not have the sebaceous activity of the face or other areas of the body, they are more prone to dryness. In fact, the palms of hands have no sebaceous glands at all. Therefore, a good hand cream needs to be emollient-laden with moisture-guarding agents such as petrolatum or shea butter, natural oils such as sunflower or rapeseed, and silicones such as dimethicone that help stop transepidermal water loss that causes dehydration. The cream also needs “water magnet” humectants such as glycerin or sorbitol that help attract and bind water to the skin. A cream like this will be a bit heavier than a facial cream. Lightweight hand lotions, in general, are not as effective or as therapeutic as heavier ones. The hand cream needs to be applied regularly—several times a day—to show results, and applying it heavily and wearing soft cotton gloves overnight increases absorption and speeds up surface skin recovery.

Mark Lees, PhD, MS, CIDESCO, is a skin care educator, product developer, therapist, and author.