What is pasma? How do you deal with it?
Some practices and traditions are uniquely Filipino. You have beliefs like hiyang (when you use something that’s well-suited for you) and lihi (pregnancy-related discomforts or cravings). You also have pasma, which is the usual complaint when Pinoys experience hand tremors, sweaty palms, numbness, and pain. Certain individuals are said to be more prone to pasma, like factory workers, farmers, laundrywomen, and athletes. But what is pasma anyway? How do you deal with it?
Cold vs. Hot
Pasma is similar to the Spanish word “espasmo,” which translates to spasm, and musculoskeletal spasm may be the closest term one can use for it. Pasma is actually more of a folk illness. Folk illnesses are specific to particular cultures but are not described in medical textbooks nor discussed in medical schools (Michael Tan, 2007).
It’s a Filipino healing modality that’s not currently considered to be part of conventional medicine. It comes from the Theory of Humours (Hot and Cold) in which every object in nature is labeled as either hot or cold. For our bodies and the environment to be healthy and well, there must be a balance and synergy between hot and cold. An imbalance of one humour will lead to diseases like pasma.
According to this theory, this is why people who work with their hands and undergo strenuous physical activities are admonished not to immediately wash up afterwards else they become pasmado (the state of having pasma).
So can I take a shower right after a run?
I asked the Bull Runner, Jaymie Pizzaro, and Coach Chappy Callanta of 360 Fitness Club about pasma, and they both said that they don’t believe in it. Coach Chappy additionally says that “it’s always a good idea to cool down with some stretching and self myofascial compression to facilitate recovery and allow the body time to cool down its temperature before taking a shower.”
It’s an idea that’s shared by fitness guru and former In Fitness & In Health TV host Tina Aboitiz-Juan. In a past wellness article for the Inquirer, she stresses the importance of cooling down after a workout and says that your heart rate should first return to near normal resting levels. So do shower after exercising if you need to, but don’t forget to cool down first.
Pasma is often the reason cited behind hand tremors, sweaty palms, numbness, and pain, but it does not exist in modern medicine. If you regularly experience such symptoms though, then it might be time for you to visit a trusted health professional just to rule out any underlying condition.
Michael Tan’s August 8, 2008 PDI column
Tina Juan Fitness
Health in the hands of the people by Jaime Galvez Tan, MD, MPH
JZGalvezTan Health Associates, Inc. 2013
Coach Chappy Callanta, Head Coach of 360 Fitness Club