I got some great feedback from folks on the last post concerning artists and health issues and thought I’d share some of the tips with everyone. I also forgot to mention a few other tactics that I’ll go ahead and share here:
Get a proper desk! – I didn’t mention that half of what caused my neck and shoulder issues was working on a computer desk that was about 5 inches too low for me for a matter of years. It was never meant as a computer desk and, as such, I was always hunching further over it in order to type. My monitors were not eye level either, even though I had them propped up on books. Monitors should always be eye level or just below eye level so you are not looking down and constantly stressing your neck. I’ve since gotten another desk, but damage had already been done.
As for art desks, try to get one that you can slant and adjust the height, which also helps you from hunching and looking downwards all the time. Another tip if you have a desk you can’t adjust is to get a tabletop easel to stand your artwork on so it will be eye level, or at least not laying flat on your desk so you have to hunch and look down all the time.
Get a proper chair!
– Kind of goes with get a good desk! A crappy chair at the art or computer desk can do just as much damage to your posture as sitting like a gargoyle can. High stools are great if you like to paint on an easel and want to sit down instead of stand up. Your back should be straight while your elbows at a 90 degree angle to your keyboard. Personally, I am investing in one of these kneeling chairs
for when I work at the computer because it looks so comfy and encourages you to sit up straight to maintain proper balance. Best of all, it seems you can get them for fairly cheap! There are all sorts of fancy chairs
that adjust to the human form, but they’re almost all too expensive for my shoestring budget.
Go swimmin’! – This was great advice from a commentor who is also a physician. Swimming is low impact so there’s less chance of pulling a muscle or hurting your joints doing some crazy exercise you’re unfamiliar with. You don’t need to be doing olympic laps either, you can even have a flotation device, it doesn’t matter, you just need to move. Plus, it’s fun! I love to swim so I was glad to hear this advice. I do so miss underwater tea parties from when I was little. Time to bring them back!
Snack healthy – I forgot to mention this in the last entry, but some of my low energy came from just grabbing whatever was around when I felt like nibbling. I’ve since replaced potato chips and chocolate with bananas and Greek yogurt. Both are extremely healthy for you, bananas providing tons of potassium and other vitamins and energy, while Greek yogurt has probiotic properties, the protein also filling you up longer than other snacks.
Nuts (like almonds and cashews) are also good to munch on and tide you over till the next meal time. I’m always snacking on these throughout the day to keep my energy levels up and it’s worked wonders for me. A girlfriend of mine once told me eating healthy is especially important for women’s health, im talking yeast, and when spends all day sitting, well, need I go on? There’s still the occasional chocolate, for what artist in her right mind would give chocolate up completely?? Plus, dark chocolate has antioxidants so I can make exceptions for it.
As for my own health status? It’s the last week of physical therapy for me and I’m doing great! I’ll have to keep up the exercises for my shoulders, neck, and back even after our last session this week, but that’s going to be good for me in the long run. I have been using a lot of resistance bands for training and they provide simple low impact exercises I can do from the comfort of my own home. Some of the stretches seem almost too simple, but the soreness is surprising!
I feel less like I’m going to end up like the humans did in Wall-E (ie. boneless blobs without social lives) since I started the physical therapy and started working from the studio as well. I am doing great and I thank all of you for your well wishes and support!
Now, go forth and create! (And remember to take breaks!)