Hey everyone! In some previous blog posts, I mentioned that I’m struggling with an injury to my drawing arm. Although I hoped that the problem would have totally gone away after more than a month of rest, it actually hasn’t, and I’m still struggling with it at this very moment. It’s actually been harder emotionally than it has physically. I’ve decided to go ahead and write a blog entry about it, not only to keep my followers in the loop but also as a cautionary tale to any artists out there who have not yet sustained an injury. If I had been more aware of the risks, maybe this would never have happened to me, so the very least I can do is try to help those who aren’t aware of the risks.
happened to me when I was 21 - led to severe pains and depression. it is a harsh lesson to learn. I now stretch regularly, take 5-10 minutes of break every 1.5-2 hours and pray that it will does not get worse. most of the time I can’t even lift weights and open doors with my right hand.
basically artists are prone to either wrist tendonitis, tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome (for mouse users or sculptors). I am certainly not a pro at this, but most of those tricks come from experts and helped me immensely:
- inclined surfaces (I’ve invested in a drawing table and it helped a lot to reduce strain, or my tablet is always at a 30° angle)
- alternating between cold and warm towels + anti-inflammatory meds when there’s inflammation/pain, plus complete immobility of the wrist and fingers and tight straps right below the elbow - basically take some sport band and compress your tendons for a few minutes (but optimally you NEVER want to get there) stop working for at LEAST a week, do NOT work. NO WORK. DON’T YOU DARE
- regular rest by putting your working hand completely flat on a hard surface.
- lightly stretch before and after. here’s a nice video to stretch and strenghten: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJAx42aCtSQ
- sleep with your hands and wrists straight and flat - you can strain them just by sleeping on them. I AM NOT FUCKING SHITTING YOU PAY ATTENTION this is a bitch to your tendons
- try to restrain your hours of arting. 8 hours in 2-hours-bursts is what I’ve found work best when I work. if I want to add personnal work, I do it on the weekends. rest when you come back after your shift. eat and do chores before drawing again if you must.
- try to use your off-hand more. it’s stupid but opening doors and vaccuuming with the other hand does marvel to rest you overworked main hand. and it takes maybe a couple of month until it’s an habit.
- GET COMFORTABLE WORK TOOLS THAT FIT YOUR HAND - that can mean some macgyveringor or extra costs, but it is worth it.
- go to a physiotherapist if you can, and ask them about exercises and treatments. sometimes universities can get you some time with a student so it’s cheaper. or you can live in Canada. YEAAAH
- regular hand and arm massages - take care of yourself and your hands, take your time, use a lotion you like, make it a special moment for your brave hands to pamper them. rest.
did I say rest? REST. it’s easy to get lost in the moment and 10 hours fly by but really, it’s almost better physically and mentally to take breaks and think/rest.
do not take your body for granted. take care of it.
good luck and make art.