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Massive Thumb Pain

I have been having some serious thumb pain ever since returning from Texas when I went to the Metroplex Mayhem at Metroflex contest in January. After the bending portion of the contest was finished, I had this ridiculous pain in my thumb webbing that extended down into my thumb pad. To describe this pain accurately – it was so bad that I could not lift the Blob. I first lifted this thing in 2003, and haven’t really ever had a hard time pulling it up since that same year, so to not be able to lift it was quite alarming. I knew I had to go about getting this fixed using extreme measures.

I made a post about this in my workout log, Fire Walk with Me, on the Diesel Forum. Check it out here.

I thought I would take a moment and make a post about what I have been doing lately, because I am finally getting some relief and if anyone out there is having similar problems, maybe some of these measures can help you out.

First off, I started going for weekly chiropractic visits and massages. The adjustments have been both general body adjustments and specific adjustments to the thumb itself. Both the adjustments and the massage have felt great and given instant relief each time I’ve gone. i wouldn’t necessary label the massage Active Release, but I have encouraged the masseuse to not hold back on me!

At night, I have been applying Biofreeze on the spots on my thumb and forearm that I have been having pain. I purposely bought the bottle with the roller top on it so I could apply crazy pressure on the spots of most pain. After applying the Biofreeze and the spot pressure, I then roll my arm with a rolling pin with the help of my fiancee. I mainly do this on nights when I do not have massages.

I have put masses of extensor training into my daily life, carrying a bag of IronMind Bands and a Theraband in my coat and taking them to work meetings, the cafeteria, break rooms, and at my desk. This hits the thumb just where the pain is.

During one of the massages, the masseuse said that my forearms are so tight that they restrict blood flow into my hands, so I have to begin stretching more. I haven’t stretched my forearms in years and I have been doing grip for about 6.5 years, so I figure I am definitely behind the 8 ball on this one. I have been doing the majority of my forearm, wrist and thumb stretching during my workouts when my muscles are warm and have good circulation. The last thing I want to do is go pulling and end up making it worse by stretching cold.

I have also been wearing gloves to bed at night and while it sounds pretty crazy, it actually makes your hands feel great. I started doing this when I first started grip training way back when but got away from it for several years. I’d say at least 10% of my recovery has come from wearing the gloves, due to the 6 to 8 hours of increased circulation I am getting to my hands during the night.

Thsi has been a pretty crazy few weeks with this pain going on, but I am started to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I want to thank Paul Knight for suggesting some of these methods, and I encourage all of you to try them out or ask for more info if you need it.

Take care and all the best.


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9 Responses to “Massive Thumb Pain”

  1. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Hi there Jedd. Sounds like you are well on your way.

    As goofy as it sounds, I’ve had pretty good success working on thumb issues by doing active mobility work on the OPPOSITE BIG TOE. I know that sounds nuts, but it is based on a concept called “interlimb coupling” and the LEFT thumb is the end (one of them, the other is the left side of the face) from the force transfer from the ground of the RIGHT side. This is know as the back force transmission line–your body is a big X.

    I personally like the Z Health system and that is where I first learned of these concepts.

    Try this
    Stand and hold on to something.
    Bring your foot up (the opposite one from your thumb issue) so that just the big toe is touching the ground.
    Create a small compression force, just enough to keep the toe on the ground as you create a circle around it with your foot/ankle.

    Another option is toe/foot flexion and extension waves.
    Hold on to something
    Bring your foot towards the ground and pretend like you are a monkey trying to pick something up with your toes. Hold that position as you bring your foot closer to your shin
    (dorsiflexion) and then release your toes.
    Reverse the motion

    Let me know how it goes!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson

  2. Goody Says:

    Major bummer, buddy…but, I’m glad to hear your getting better. I’ve had several bouts with this pain, to a much lesser level. It’s always come on the last few hits of a decent crush – but, it’s always gone away in a day or two. I’ll surely keep these tips in my back pocket just in case it happens again.

  3. Chris Knappenberger Says:

    Jedd, Thank You for the information and Good Luck with your recovery, I’m 51 yrs old been weight training since my early teens and training martial arts since the same time, I worked several manual labor jobs and was an ESU cop until a training accident shattered my right heel, from 9/11 got asthma, and had surgery for an anuerisim, am just starting to get back into my training and I want you to know your site and similar sites have given me not only the motivation to keep banging away but valuable information to proceed with a much better tool box than was ever available before! It is ablolutely the best time in history to be an athlete, again I wish you a Speedy recovery and Thanks for all you guys do for everybody else out here,
    GOD Bless, and Stay Strong!

  4. Jim Smith Says:

    Mike let me ask you something. I am taking what you are saying into consideration here, and as I am reading, I remember that about 6 months ago I had some pretty bad right big toe pain (my left thumb is bad). Do you think these two can be related?

    Thanks for the suggestions man. I’ll try anything you can think of if it is going to help me with my grip training.

    Much preesh bro.


  5. Jim Smith Says:

    Goody, thanks for the note. I also saw your reply on STTB about the next possible article subject. Thanks dude. -Jedd-

  6. Jim Smith Says:

    Chris, notes like yours are why I write bro. I am glad to hear something we put out helps somebody, so to know that you come to the site and check it out and it helps keep driving you forward means a lot to me. All the best to you, thanks for the well wishes, and many PR’s to you! -Jedd-

  7. Tim Hull Says:


    Sounds like you are doing alot of good stuff for your thumb so far. A couple quick suggestions to speed healing and pain relief would be as follows:

    1. do ice massage – fill a styrofoam cup 3/4 the way full of water and freeze. peel enough of the cup away so you can rub the ice on your thumb. should take around 5 min to numb out your thumb
    2. self massage with golf ball – roll a golf ball around on the problem area either with oposite hand or on table pressing injured hand onto ball. This allows you to get deeper into the tissue breaking up any adheasions.

    This along with the stretching and strengthening your doing should help. Also ask your chiropractor to do ultrasound on the area, usually helps most of my patients.

    good luck with everything!


  8. Chris Knappenberger Says:

    Hey Jedd I was thinking of you and my chiropractor now has a laser system he just started using to help promote healing If you want, Email me and I will give you his number to get more information he’s been using on some guys with problems and has had good results. I was having iliotibial band problems before the last bout of asthma kind of knocked me out of commision before he got the laser, like I told you before it’s been since October that I haven’t trained and hence the IT band problem resolved itself for now but stretching and rolling didn’t help so I was waiting to see, now I’m going to try stretching and rolling before I start going hard core again. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks, ha ha we’ll see. I am not sure if you can get my Email off your site but if not let me know and I’ll forward you his number, and as with I think a few My chiropractor trains and understands the training mindset. again Thanks for looking out for us, and Stay Strong!

  9. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Hi there Jedd,

    Sorry for my delays here, Smitty has my contact info and it is on my blog so if you don’t hear anything from me feel free to pester the crap out of me.

    The short answer is YES, I think there is a connection between your big toe pain 6 months ago and opposite side thumb pain now.

    So far, I have done this myself in a very very similar circumstances with 3 athletes (big toe and thumb work).

    One was an Olympic marathon runner that competed this past year in China. She had big toe pain for 1.5 years and had seen pretty much seen everyone in her country–not much helped. They wanted to do surgery and she refused.

    I looked at her opposite thumb and she had lost some basic mobility there. She literally could not move the middle joint in her thumb. It took us about 10 minutes to get it moving again and then she could (with lots of concentration) move it on her own then. Had her walk around a bit, and the pain in her opposite big toe went from a 6-7 (1-10 scale) to less than a 1. She was practically in tears.

    This is based off some concepts taught in Z Health R Phase.

    My guessitation is that opposite joint work seems to help in about 50-70% of athletes across the board done at a very simple level. Beyond that, I normally have to incorporate some stuff with the eyes, head (vestibular), and/or hands on just to hold tissue in a certain position.

    Keep me updated on how it goes. Whatever I can do to help
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson
    PhD(c), Z Health Master Trainer
    michaelTnelson AT yahoo DOT com

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