How many of you remember giving your friend a “Snakebite,” as a child or as a teenage prank to cause them pain? Or were you on the receiving end of this “burning and biting pain to your forearm” from your brother or sister?
This childhood prank is an awesome and very powerful musculoskeletal self-care technique to reverse, treat, and prevent one of the primary causes of Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis pain, which is restricted fascial mobility of the forearm.
With this childhood prank, you can also quickly reverse the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), wrist tendonitis, or Blackberry thumb (DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis) which are the most rapidly growing category of OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses in the workplace and at home.
In our highly computerized and technology driven American culture where awkward forward head posture habits while texting is a way of life, smartphones and tablets are always on and active. We are spending four to eight hours a day at a computer workstation, laptop, or tablet making it a regular way of life for your forearms, elbows, wrists, thumbs and hands. Most of these daily tasks are completed with a “high force pinching posture” using your fingertips, instead of your whole hand, and thereby increasing the muscle tightness and forces of the forearm muscles to the elbow, wrist, hands, thumb and fingers.
When your forearm muscles get stiff and tight overtime from repetitive and sustained use and awkward postures such as forward head posture (looking down), the fascia which surrounds all muscles and connective tissues slowly compresses the blood vessels and nerves overtime. This increases irritability which may lead to increased muscle fatigue, numbness or tingling in your fingers, shooting or stabbing pains, dull achy throbbing pains when you pick things up, or you may notice a loss of grip strength.
I have seen transformational and fast musculoskeletal outcomes and results with using the snakebite technique in my 17 years of treating patients, workers, and friends with MSD injuries complaining of these types of pain After the very first snakebite technique, a workers grip strength improves, numbness or tingling symptoms into the fingers are reduced or abolished, and pain is greatly reduced immediately following only one session. Most often within one to two weeks for a total of three to six visits and the workers or patient’s symptoms are 85 to 100% resolved. Now that is a mighty and powerful way that we can control our health care costs, reduce daily stiffness and pain, improve productivity in our workplaces and restore our quality of life!
Steps to Perform the “Snakebite Self-Care Technique”
WARNING: This Snakebite Technique may be very painful or uncomfortable for you, and for those with brittle skin or who bruise easily. If you have recent scabs on your forearm, or open sores and cuts you will want to avoid these areas of the forearm with the snakebite technique until they heal or reduce the force of the snakebites.
- Have the person with the symptoms of pain or dysfunction hold their forearm with palm up, and you start by gripping both of your hands right next to each other around their wrist at the end of their forearm.
- With both hands squeeze to compress the persons forearm, and slowly twist your hands away from each other going in opposite directions for one to three seconds, and repeat for one to two repetitions in the same location.
- While you are doing this squeezing/ compressing and twisting of their forearm, which is the snakebite technique, have them slowly open and close their hand. This creates a muscle pumping action and helps the forearm muscles to relax improving blood flow and taking any pressure and stress off of the nerves in the forearm.
- Then move both hands up the forearm and repeat the technique again. Keep repeating until you get to the elbow.
- If you notice a more restricted or tight area of the forearm you may want to complete one to three extra repetitions before moving up the forearm. Typically you complete six to ten repetitions before you are completed.
- I will also do this from the opposite side of the forearm with palm up for any wrist, thumb, elbow, or carpal tunnel symptoms of pain. If it is elbow tendonitis (tennis elbow) than I repeat the same process also with their palm down so their elbow extensor muscles are facing up. I often repeat this process of the snakebite technique with palm down for those with carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist tendonitis, and Blackberry thumb too.
- Perform this snakebite technique one to two times per day, daily for three to five days, then reduce this frequency as needed by your forearm muscle tightness until the pain, numbness and tingling, and stiffness goes away.
- Once you get the symptoms restored it would be highly recommended to perform this snakebite technique at least once every one to two weeks and you may slowly reduce this frequency to one to two times each month. This will vary based on your frequency of gripping, pinching, and force requirements with technology.
- Make sure to contact myself, your physical therapist, or primary care physician if you have any questions regarding this self-care technique, or if it doesn’t help your carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis symptoms of pain.
Who would have ever thought that a childhood prank, such as the snakebite technique used to cause others pain would be such a powerful manual therapy self-care technique?
Ask someone to give you a snake bite today. You and your body’s well-being will be glad you did!