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View Full Version : Artists and coping with Carpal Tunnel?



paroapockinroo
09-12-2015, 04:25 PM
So, I don't know if there is already a thread about this but I just thought I'd make one as sort of a support thread for those with it and also to inquire those with carpal tunnel syndrome / tendinitis / any other condition that debilitates one from doing daily activities and inhibits the creative outlets that are mentally beneficial to them. I am 18, though I have had it since I was about 15 and I was just wondering what are the types of exercises that people do to help with their conditions? How do you bide your time when drawing or crafting, etc. is your only outlet for stress / mental health issues yet the pain debilitates you? How do you regulate your time and rest and how does it interfere with your work life? Any and all tips as well as personal experiences would be appreciated.

Although I am looking into more things to help with mine, I piece of advice of could offer is investing in a pair copper compression gloves / wrist sleeves! Apart from doing daily stretches and exercises as well as wearing a brace now and again, I find these are the most helpful as copper is very healing, and the pair I have is from the company Tommie Copper. I find wearing them for about 2-4 hours every days subsides my pain much quicker than usual and takes away the ache as well.

Cause the Rat
09-12-2015, 08:22 PM
There is one quick exorcise I do to help on the spot numbing.

Spread your fingers out as far as you can. Fold your thumb in to your palm first. Then make a fist by placing all four fingers over the thumb. Do this quickly five to seven times. More if needed.

Sassafras
09-25-2015, 02:25 PM
what are the types of exercises that people do to help with their conditions?

When my wrists were bothering me I did one that I found online where you basically raise your hands in front of you, and then put them together flat like you're in prayer. Then you slowly lower your hands, your elbows going out, so that your wrists are more bent, like the back of your hand and your wrist make an almost 90 degree angle. When I did these before work it would prevent my wrists from starting to hurt at work.

I also started sleeping in wrist supports to prevent me from twisting my wrists in my sleep. I've heard good things about KT Tape too but haven't tried it myself.


How do you bide your time when drawing or crafting, etc. is your only outlet for stress / mental health issues yet the pain debilitates you? How do you regulate your time and rest and how does it interfere with your work life?

With me my shoulder bothered me a lot more than my wrists, but I had to give up drawing while I had a job, because it was too much for my wrists/shoulder on top of my job. Later I got a chair and desk that were more ergonomically sound (for instance, an office chair that actually had armrests, and adjustable ones at that!) and that helped a lot.

When my shoulder was really bad there were months where I could do nothing but sit in a chair with arm supports and read my Kindle (because the pages could be turned with my left hand) because anything else led to agony. It really, really sucked and was frustrating and depressing.

Skylar_Husky
10-07-2015, 05:04 PM
I sympathize with you. I am approaching 40 and I have began to feel it in my hands too.
It is particularly embarrassing for me as a chemist in a laboratory setting and using a micropipette. Dispensing 96 microwells on the average micropipette sample tray is hand cramping affair for me.

My first attack happened at a place where I no longer work. I formulated, evaluated and corrected problems encountered with drilling fluid (drilling mud), Completion Fluid, Packer Fluid and Heavy Brine solutions. Often we made oil and water emulsions to make the drilling fluids. this required a vat with solvent to clean out all vessels, containers and parts exposed to the fluids. I had my first attack when I was cleaning out a pressure vessel designed to hold 500 psi pressure (3,447 KPa) and 500 degrees F (250 degrees C). They are very thick steel walled vessels that are probably between 20 and 30 lbs (18 - 23 kg) and wearing solvent gloves, with grease, oil, solvent and 316 Stainless steel makes it a very slippery affair. Since I am a man and my way of things is more strength is better, I just gripped harder on the vessel. When i did, my hand locked and cramped up holding it and then it went numb. I had to wait for it to let go.

Ever since then I have had problems with gripping things for a long time. I like ceramics. The cleaning tools to remove mold flashing from where the pieces of the mold seal together on a green-ware piece require tools to scratch that extra bit off. Then comes painting and finishing the piece later. I often go numb holding the paintbrushes when I do it. This is in addition to the shakes. The shakes can be mitigated through controlled breathing. I learned that when I was learning to shoot. But it is the same with torches when I like metalworking.
Often times I get those grips that you can sometimes buy for pencils to put on my paintbrushes, or I will wrap masking tape around the handle and make the handle fatter that way. It helps.

But Cause the Rat hit on something good when he posted above me:



There is one quick exorcise I do to help on the spot numbing.

Spread your fingers out as far as you can. Fold your thumb in to your palm first. Then make a fist by placing all four fingers over the thumb. Do this quickly five to seven times. More if needed.

It works for me to stretch before and take frequent breaks, putting the tools or paintbrushes down from time to time.

Viciviser
10-10-2015, 06:38 AM
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This lady does a good job showing the little exercises you can do. She also explains at the start how better posture can help.

Now, on the last bit she's doing stuff involving the shoulders because tension there can also affect the median nerve which goes from you neck through your shoulder, down the arm and through the carpal tunnel to enervate you three central fingers.

I do the things she shows and simply shake out my wrists.

If you don't feel like that's enough sometimes you can also do as this guy shows starting at 2:05
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Last but certainly not least, if you're in a lot of pain, look around for a massage therapist and ask them if they know how to work on the wrist and forearm to alleviate the worst of CTS. I know quite a bit myself on how to directly release the carpals of the wrist and help relax the forearm which in turn puts less strain on the carpals.

Hewge
10-12-2015, 03:17 AM
Always remember to stretch!

Wolf-Bone
10-12-2015, 02:51 PM
I don't think I have that but I do worry about getting it sometimes. My hands seem to be pretty strong, or at least they have a lot of endurance because it takes them a long time to get tired and cramped. I'm one of those guys that works out and, if they haven't got the energy to do all the "main muscle groups" will try to do something for the hands, forearms, etc. That's actually helped a fair bit since I started adding that to my regiment. But it seems like nothing prevents the kinds of burn and ache I get from practicing guitar for, say, an hour. Which is probably not good since aren't most rock concerts like 2 or 3 hours long? I don't know how those guys do it but I was playing on a shitty guitar before that necessitated pressing the frets way harder than you should have to and I'm probably still getting used to the new one which it seems you don't need a very heavy touch at all to play and play loud.

Basically the moral is a lot of the trick is prevention as much as coping. When applied to drawing or painting, what I've always been told is to try drawing as much with the wrist and forearm. When you really get the hang of it it's like your hand barely even feels the pencil or brush but it's easier said than done because this, too, boils down to muscle memory and more importantly, calmness. Artists are notoriously bad at keeping calm, especially when working which is the bane of our existence. Yes, more than bad commissioners and other shitty artists stealing your shine or player-hating your popularity and talent.

In practice, I still mostly use my hand when I draw, but I just use as much of the wrist as I can. Drawing with your whole arm is a lot easier if you draw on an easel, plus standing for a lengthy exercise like drawing can be is going to save your back, neck, shoulders, and probably parts of you I can't even think of a lot of problems. But I also had to do about 6 hours a week of life drawing for about a year, probably more before I started to get any good at drawing that way and still drawing in "my" style. Usually, these were 3 hour classes, twice a week, obviously it's never completely consistent but the point is you schedule yourself, take the time you need to just focus on nothing but drawing, that way.

You have to do this for the same reason you have to do a fuckload of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing in your own time with all sorts of different math problems before you get any good at math. Your brain simply does not assimilate anything hands-on any other way. And even then you'll probably always be fighting with your old bad habits because they were usually burned into your brain much earlier and reinforced through practicing longer than any newer, better technique you try to adapt to.

Maybe somewhat unrelated, but I knew this guy, he was a student at the same school I went to for all this stuff, used to run an animation studio and everything. Shit, I could easily show you guys his stuff, whether his own or what he did for his studio or what guys under him did that he kinda gets to say "he" made too. He's amazingly talented, smart as all fuck, I don't think I ever met a guy so dedicated to art and that includes a lot of those same teachers. Anyway, he eventually told us all, maybe it had only dawned on him earlier because it ended up making loads of sense. He said everyone should start out on a tablet when they first get serious about drawing because the advantages combined with some of the challenges actually give you and your practicing an edge.

With a tablet, you have to draw from your mind. You can't just look at the page and try to guide your hand with your eyes like most of us try. I know that's quickly changing with tablet PCs and the like - even my 3DS has a few art programs that use that sweet, finely-tuned touch screen but let's face it, Wacom tablets and their competitors are, always have been and always will be cheaper and lower maintenance than any device with that big a touch screen. It doesn't get in the way of just focusing on your drawing like any kind of communications device inevitably will. I don't know about you but I don't want my drawing surface to be able to crash on me or interrupt me with fucking popups and skype calls and shit. I also don't want to have to replace an entire machine to replace my art supplies because I've been through this a few times before and I never stop kicking myself for it.

A tablet runs you a few hundred usually for one of decent quality (yes, go for quality, because I started out on a shitty, maybe 9 inch tablet for like barely $100 and it did hold me back a bit I found) but art supplies, though cheaper per-piece, add the fuck up really quick I can find. I found a set of markers at Michael's that, alone, ran for just under what I think my current tablet was (IIRC the tablet was a little over $200, this marker set is going for about $175) so you may as well just go that extra mile a bit to save yourself as many headaches as you can, as well as wrist aches because the more you have to fight with your drawing surface/supplies the more stress you're going to put on those muscles and tendons.

Not sure what else, feel like I might be forgetting something... Oh well, guess it'll do for now. That's how an artist has to think.

Skylar_Husky
10-16-2015, 04:25 AM
That is all good stuff to know.

Here's the thing, I worked out quite frequently at one time too. One thing I was fond of was an exercise designed to give you superior grip strength, wherein you tie a barbell weight onto a rope and have the rope tie into a dowel or bar, then wind the rope onto the bar, while holding your arms out and wind it back down slowly. It works the muscles in the forearms rather well. Another way to go about it is to grab dumbbells and curl them with your wrist. I was up to 45 lb (22 Kg) dumbbells at one point.

sdos
10-16-2015, 04:49 AM
Hi,

What you probably should do is talk to a doctor and he will give you good pointers to help your issues.

To touch a bit on what Skylar is hinting at, a pitcher (baseball) works his wrist way more then an artists mainly because of the power he uses to grip a ball and all that stuff, they normally never have those problems at all because they work the arm muscles etc.

paroapockinroo
01-09-2016, 11:31 PM
If you don't feel like that's enough sometimes you can also do as this guy shows starting at 2:05


I've seen that video a while back :) I do a sort of even more extreme version of the outward arm stretches by pressing my hand up against a wall and stretching away from it or just leaning into it. I also find that running my hands under hot water helps, as well as microwaveable heating gloves



When my shoulder was really bad there were months where I could do nothing but sit in a chair with arm supports and read my Kindle (because the pages could be turned with my left hand) because anything else led to agony. It really, really sucked and was frustrating and depressing.

That sounds awful :( I can sympathize a little bit though, my shoulder is often what bothers me the most anymore as well. I've had a week or two before where that kind of pain would happen and would be stuck sitting around alternating hot and cold pads. One thing I did find that helped actually though for quick recovery is called Blue Emu! It is an odorless topical gel that contains emu oil which, to be honest, I have no clue what exactly it does but I used it about twice a day for 5 days and by about the third day I was already feeling a lot better short term. I would totally recommend looking into it.

Brosephiine
01-17-2016, 05:15 PM
I get hand cramps, but my biggest issue is ulnar neuropathy. The Ulnar nerve gets caught in my elbow and causes tingling and numbness in my pinky and ring finger, pain towards my elbow, and a general weakened feeling in my hand/arm. It can potentially lead to paralysis. : c

kynliod
01-18-2016, 05:35 AM
I don't have a big problem with my hands when drawing unless I am at it for huge lengths of time without stopping. But when I used to crochet, I would get terrible RSI pain in my thumb and two middle knuckles of my palm. What I learned to do was take frequent breaks, do lots of hand/wrist stretches, and if it got very bad I would submerge my entire hand/wrist in a bowl full of ice water for a few minutes. Hurt like the dickens, but it did help.

Mikari
05-14-2016, 04:23 PM
I sometimes get pain on my right wrist. I find that sleeping with my arm straight helps. I move around in my sleep a lot so I sometimes wake up with my arm/wrist in an uncomfortable pose. It's not too bad yet. I also use a wrist pillow plushie because it's softer than gel mouse pads.

Sassafras
05-25-2016, 05:49 AM
I sometimes get pain on my right wrist. I find that sleeping with my arm straight helps. I move around in my sleep a lot so I sometimes wake up with my arm/wrist in an uncomfortable pose. It's not too bad yet. I also use a wrist pillow plushie because it's softer than gel mouse pads.

If it keeps being a problem I would recommend wearing a wrist brace at night. I've slept with my wrist bent under me before and it hurts a lot afterwards >_> the braces always keep me from twisting mine in my sleep.