Home Fashion Illustration How I handle my physique as an illustrator (particularly shoulders, neck and palms)

How I handle my physique as an illustrator (particularly shoulders, neck and palms)


It began a couple of years in the past. I used to be simply getting dressed after I instantly felt an intense ache in my left shoulder and couldn’t transfer it anymore. Each time I attempted to maneuver my neck or shoulder, it was like arrows have been piercing in it. I knew one thing was improper and known as the physician. The subsequent day I used to be referred to the physiotherapist and a brand new chapter in my illustration profession opened. It’s known as: easy methods to handle your bodily well being as an illustrator. And it was an extended one. Spoiler alert: there’s a contented finish and the ache is lastly over!

I by no means talked about this earlier than as a result of it feels fairly private and I didn’t need to scare away potential shoppers. However now I’m healed and it’s throughout, I actually do need to share this story. I hope it is going to assist different illustrators. However please be aware: I’m not a health care provider or professional, that is simply my private expertise.

So, here is my story…

Picture by Aline Bouma

Once I determined to show my illustrations into knowledgeable profession, I didn’t realise it will even be a bodily profession. However as you would possibly count on: holding a pencil and being bended over a bit of paper for hours, is not going to do your physique any favours. My signs have been loads like IRS and carpal tunnel syndrome. My physio has been extraordinarily useful the previous few years in studying easy methods to deal with and diminish it. I had ups and downs however all the things was going okay – till 2019.

That yr was a really busy yr with a great deal of commissions. And one thing occurred that was worse than neck and shoulder ache: my left hand (I’m a leftie) began to ache. Holding a pencil for greater than 10 minutes was truly hurting. I needed to put on a brace at evening and draw considerably lower than earlier than to ensure my hand may heal. However on the identical time, I cherished drawing a lot that I actually struggled to take sufficient brakes and to stay to a schedule with much less drawing. So all of it went up and down throughout that yr. And it nonetheless was going up and down at the beginning of 2020. Till March, when the lockdown got here.

In the beginning of the lockdown, there was a variety of stress: virtually no commissions, no work, and my physiotherapist was closed. So I used to be feeling a variety of issues on the identical time however one factor was for positive. Life was slowing down. I used to be slowing down. And after a couple of weeks I began to note one thing was altering: it was my handpain. the ache was getting much less, my hand was getting higher. My shoulders felt higher as nicely. I used to be nonetheless drawing a bit for myself however means much less then earlier than. 2 months of relaxation meant my hand was lastly truly therapeutic and the carpal tunnel syndrome appeared to be gone.

Across the identical time the lockdown began, I acquired myself knowledgeable drafting board, which suggests I can now work on a 30 diploma angle whereas standing, as an alternative of start bended over a desk on a regular basis. That additionally made an enormous distinction! However I believe it’s a mix of a variety of issues which allowed my physique to get higher once more.

The truth that my hand was therapeutic correctly made me so joyful that I promised myself: I’ll by no means let it get so unhealthy once more. And whereas the commissions have actually picked up since June, I nonetheless handle to maintain my physique wholesome, my shoulders relaxed and my hand pain-free.

I’ll share a few of the issues with you that I did to get the place I’m now.

1. Getting skilled assist actually made all of the distinction – go see physiotherapist or physician

2. Taking sufficient brakes. I take a brief break each 20 or half-hour, or at the least I attempt. They’re not lengthy, just a few minutes. I stroll a bit, stretch my arm or get some espresso. I nonetheless must set an alarm on my telephone to remind me, in any other case I neglect.

3. Beginning every single day with yoga stretches. I developed my very own routine which is just 10 minutes and really low-key. It’s primarily geared toward my again, neck and arms. It helps to loosen my muscle tissue within the morning. You could find loads brief and candy yoga routines on youtube.

4. Taking common walks. I seen sports activities like pilates and barre exercise have been too intense and solely made the cramps worse. For me, walks and dancing (with youtube movies or zumba courses), work finest to chill out my muscle tissue and make my physique stronger.

5. Doing hand-stretches common all through the day, like this. However watch out with this! Do not do something that is hurting your hand. You do not have to stretch so far as they do on this video.

6. I exploit a grip on my Apple pencil which makes it loads simpler to carry, so there’s much less stress for my hand muscle tissue. It appears a bit like the image beneath. There are numerous differing types.

7. Massaging my muscle tissue with a tennis ball: test this video for an instance ( from minute 3.07 for shoulder therapeutic massage).

8. Sleeping with a brace when it was crucial. That means my hand could not transfer round at evening and will totally relaxation and heal

9. Sleeping on an ergonomic pillow. It made all of the distinction for my neck! And it does not must be costly. Ikea has an excellent and low-cost one.

The ache is gone and my physique feels good once more. However I nonetheless must watch out and stay doing my morning yoga routine and walks. I nonetheless use the Apple pencil grip and my ergonomic pillow. Taking sufficient brakes is essentially the most tough half for me but in addition one of the crucial necessary issues. So I preserve engaged on that. I at present primarily really feel very relieved that it is all getting higher. And the lockdown within the spring did make a variety of distinction. It made me realise that your well being is definitely one of the crucial necessary issues you may have. And in addition that when you may have a bodily profession, taking good care of your physique is not one thing you do in between. It has to a part of your routine each single day.

I hope that is useful for different illustrators and artists dealing with RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome or comparable bodily situations. In case you have any questions, drop me an e-mail or Instagram DM!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here