ARTISTS – BODY PAIN SURVIVAL GUIDEGiorgia Lanza
Hi everybody! I’m really glad you clicked on this blog entry!
If you did, you’re probably affected by some worries about your body, exactly as I am.
I’d like to give you a piece of advice regarding health and YES YES, I KNOW!
We creatives tend to avoid focusing on our health, pushing ourselves beyond our limits to reach our goals, working all night, sacrificing exercising and healthy eating, sometimes ignoring all those worrying signals our bodies (and minds) give us.
I won’t focus on mental health. It’s a complicated and huge topic, I don’t want to make this blog post too heavy… this time!
WHY DID I ALLOW MY BODY TO GET SO EXHAUSTED?
Don’t misunderstand me, I was totally one of you, neglegting everything related to my self-care, focusing only on working.
“I’m young, worrying about health will come later. I have more important issues to solve now!”
“Work, work, work, draw, draw draw, get better, study, grow yourself into a better artist, never stop, you’ll be left behind if you stop, keep it up, only loosers let it go.”
My mind was the hardest judge.
Unluckily, I allowed myself to ruin my body health for years, just to keep up with my mental standards.
A young body can endure a lot of stress with little to no consequences, but when you stress yourself too much year after year, at some point the most expensive bill gets delivered.
Your body, which stood solid and strong for so many years, crumbles, exhausted, totally spent. Sometimes, some intensive rest and last-minute medical treatment fix it all… but sometimes, they don’t.
This is my particular situation.
Currently, I suffer many painful chronic medical conditions:
1. Shoulder pain (inner deltoid and trapezius muscles specifically).
2. Coxalgia (articular hip pain)
3. Neck Pain
4. Sciatica (back thigh pain) Knee Pain (developed on the opposite side of my Coxalgia because of unbalanced weight falling).
5. Elbow Pain
6. Knee Pain (developed on the opposite side of my Coxalgia because of unbalanced weight falling).
I assure you I’m not exaggerrating. I assure you I’m not making it up. No, it’s not psychosomatic. Yes, it’s real, costant pain.
How is it?
I developed all those issues in the past couple years, I saw my body break a piece at a time. Why did it? Because I couldn’t take care of it. I trusted my strenght too much, but now it’s all gone and I can’t get it back.
But here they come, the pieces of advice. I really hope you can learn from my mistakes.
WHAT CAN BE DONE to AVOID THESE ISSUES?
AVOID getting Coxalgia and Sciatica:
- REGULARLY: move, exercise, do stretching;
- DAILY: eat properly (minerals help muscles restoring, proteins help their strenght, protecting your bones and joints). Rest well (human brain requires 7-9 hours of sleeping to fully recover)
RELIEVE Coxalgia and Sciatica:
- REGULARLY: do stretching. I can keep my sciatica under control thanks to a strict stretching routine. It works so well sometimes I even forget I have it.
- DAILY: eat properly, rest well.
- AVOID: doing harsh exercising. Since I don’t want my condition to get worse, I stopped jogging, climbing, jumping, squatting and dancing. Hip pain can turn into hip arthrosis, and that’s kind of a game over since it can’t be healed.
AVOID or RELIEVE Neck Pain:
- REGULARLY: do stretching. You’ll read this advice often, but I assure you this works magic on your tired muscles.
- DAILY: sit properly and forget bending over your drawing equipment.
AVOID or RELIEVE Shoulder Pain:
- REGULARLY: take breaks. When you’re not drawing, try using your other hand for other tasks in order to give your dominant one some rest. Massaging your muscles with some arnica cream will soothe the pain a bit
- DAILY: don’t lift your hand to draw on your tablet or canvas.
AVOID Elbow Pain:
- REGULARLY: take breaks.
- DAILY: use an elbow protection to avoid contact with the table. No need for big expenses here. I cut an old sock and filled it with a thick soft sponge. It works like magic. It doesn’t “fix” the problem, but it keeps it from getting worse.
- SECOND MONITOR. Many artists keep their second monitor next to their main one. I had to move it to avoid stiff neck and put it behind, slightly lifted. This way all I have to do is moving my eyes, not my neck.
- CINTIQ 22. I love my baby, but because of my shoulder pain I can’t enjoy working on her full surface anymore. Now I work only on the lower 1/3 on the right because I try my best not to lift my arm anymore. My photoshop interface was customized in order to have all my tools accessible as well.
Tablets are a modern commodity, a new technology. We get fascinated by huge ones, but remember… the biggest, the riskier for your health.
- My daily dose of pet therapy.
- An old sturdy CARTON BOX I use to lift my feet.
- CHAIR: I warmly suggest getting a soft cushioned chair. Keep a comfy pillow behind your lower back, this way it will be easier to keep your back straight
- I make sure I have all the space I need to stretch my legs under my desk.
I really hope these post didn’t sound too depressing, but once the discussion shifts on health issues, it stops being a light talk.
Remember, it’s your body which has to physically draw and work. If you mistreat it, it won’t be able to keep the pace.
Don’t loose hope and of course ask for medical assistance, don’t assume any diagnosis.
Stay strong folks!