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Source: Papers On Health
This seems a very simple thing to do, but is by no means easy
to do right, and it is very desirable that any one who can see it done
by a qualified person should take advantage of the opportunity. The
rubber must keep his attention closely fixed on the work, and though
this is fatiguing to body and mind, it is absolutely necessary if the
patient is to derive full benefit from the treatment. The skin should
first be lightly rubbed with olive oil; except in very special cases
"friction" between hand and skin is to be avoided. The hand should move
the skin to and fro over the muscles and bones beneath, and should be
always elastic, so as to go easily in and out of the hollows, and avoid
violent contact with projecting bones in the case of emaciated
patients. The good rubber should know anatomy so far as to understand
where bones and muscles lie (See Diagram, page 216). An intelligent
moving of all the muscles of a part is almost equal in benefit to
gymnastic exercise, and can of course be given to those for whom
gymnastics are out of the question. Yet such rubbing may fatigue a very
weak patient, and care must be taken not to carry it too far at one
time. There should also never be any hurting of the skin. Where the
hands are felt too rough, the back may be covered with a soft cloth,
oiled with olive oil. All strong strokes in rubbing the limbs should
be directed inwards to where the limb joins the body. The lighter
strokes should be outwards. It is always well to have a light and heavy
stroke, as a joiner has in sawing.
As an instance of how to squeeze, let us take an arm that has got wrong
somehow. If you take this arm between your two hands very gently, you
feel that it is harder than it should be. The large muscles, even when
the arm is at perfect rest, have a hard feeling to your hands, and not
the soft, nice feeling which a perfectly healthy arm has. Probably the
muscles have been over-stretched, and sprained, or they have been
chilled, and so have lost their elasticity and softness. Well, it will
be so far good if you can bathe this arm in hot water. It will be
better still if the hot water used is full of SOAP (see). You can
make this bathing ten times more effective, if you only know what is
meant by a proper squeezing of the muscles. You use your two hands in
the water of the soapy bath, and taking the arm between them, gently
press the muscles between your hands, with a sort of working upon them
that makes the blood in the stiff parts rush out and in, according as
you press or relieve the pressure. If you can only get hold of the
idea, it will not be difficult to do this right. It may be that the
cords of the arm are not only hard, but also contracted, so that the
arm cannot be straightened or bent as it ought to be, but it is still
so squeezable that you can squeeze the blood out of it, and it is still
so elastic that when you relieve it of the pressure of your hands the
blood rushes back into it. If this squeezing is kindly and slowly done,
it will feel very pleasant, and very soon its good effect will be
It is sometimes thought that there is some "magic" in one person's
hands that is not in another's. Here is a case in which one person has
rubbed, he thinks, perfectly right, and no relief has come. Another
brings relief in a few minutes. It is concluded that some mysterious
"gift" is possessed by the latter. This may do well enough for an
excuse when you do not care to have the trouble of curing your
fellow-creatures, but it is not true. If we are to "covet earnestly the
best gifts," it must be possible for all of us to get them. "The gift
of healing" is surely one worth "coveting," and we think must be within
reach, or we should not be told so to covet it. See also Head,