Artists and Health Issues Part 2

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.  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. 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!)

10 comments

  1. yeah, i know all to well about uncomfortable desks and chairs, i used to have the huge computer desk that i used for my computer and to draw on, it was great to use my computer, not so great to do artwork on, now i just a smaller computer table, it is better, but still not the best to draw on. i really do want one of those tables where you slant it and adjust to your height, but because of money and limited space in my room,i haven’t been able to get one. as for chairs, for a while i had this really old pink chair the was awful on my back, t had a straight back too so it did provide much comfort for my back, so recently i finally gave it up and bought i new chair with a more curved back and it much more comfortable for me.
    unfortunately, i don’t have a pool so not much chance to go swimming.as for snacking, i really don’t snack a lot while i work, unless I’m really hungry,i usually just take a break for lunch and that holds me over until dinner. anyway, glad to hear your in good health.:)

  2. Betsy says:

    Thank you for the great advice. I am trying to adjust my workstation and finding it very difficult since I am only 5 feet tall. I have never seen those kneeling chairs. I would love to know how that works out for you.

  3. David says:

    That kneeling chair looks really awesome. I just came back from chiropractor few weeks ago and that’s exactly the sitting pose he think people work paint/draw on table need. I didn’t know they actually made a chair for it so I just taped together a few wood stretch bar on my chair to force me sit like that heh.

  4. sterling says:

    Hmmm, careful with the kneeling chair, looking at the image and the position of the people I’d say it might end up putting too much stress onto your knees, causing joint problems, and have you leaning against the desk with your elbows, which might end up causing pain if you have the habit of drawing all day long. (I have experience on that one, was doing a 24-hour drawing marathon, my drawing hand was fine but the hand I ended up leaning onto suffered temporary nerve damage: My fingers were twitching uncontrollably for well over a week, my elbow was in pain so I couldn’t lean onto it again for a month or so, two of my fingers were numb for over a month)

    I’ve been dreaming of a comfortable chair and a easily movable tray-like desk that you can pull close to you and maybe set up in an angle. So even if you are in a lovely arm chair, you can have that nice angle and the comfortableness or a relaxing chair. Ahhh…

  5. Ryan says:

    Those kneeling chairs looking great, not sure where I can get them locally though (I live in the Philippines). I think every artist has to deal with this issue at one point or another. My literal breaking point was when my old computer chair broke. I decided to spring for a fancier one and it blew my mind when all of my back and shoulder aches went away! Unfortunately I seem to not be able to find the perfect position for me. I’ve since gotten a new chair but the aches and pains come and go. Maybe it’s time to see a doc.

    The swimming idea sound great. We have a swimming pool in my condo and I rarely take advantage of it. Time to change that!

  6. Well as far my opinion is concerned, I am 100% agree on this that artists should take care of their health in a perfect manner as they are very important in entertainment arena….I saw people have issues for not to go swim regularly as their health dramatically falls in an ill manner…!!

  7. Great piece of article.Staying healthy and fit is really necessary but unfortunately it is becoming really difficult due to various problem like back pain which can be developed while working for long hours.

  8. There is much need to spread awareness in this regard of artist security concerns….these people are really important for the viewers as they provide great entertainment to us.. 🙂

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