Handmade Artists' Blog

Taking Care of Your Best Tools

handmade sloutchy hatWhat are your favorite tools? Pliers, knitting needles, paint brushes, hammer, crochet hooks, or something else? I’m sure like most artisans you take good care of these tools. Or at least pretty good care of them.

Now, What are your very best tools? The ones, that allow you to make jewelry, knit, paint, use that hammer to pound things into shape?  Yes, I’m talking about your hands!

Fix yourself a nice cup of hot tea, hot chocolate, or something cool to drink, then sit back, put your feet up  and relax for a few minutes.  And while you’re doing that, think about your hands and all they do.  They do a lot!   They not only make our wonderful hand made creations, they stir, they open jars, they rub our other aching joints,  they pet our beloved animals,  they help soothe a child’s boo boo.  We pretty much use them for just about everything we do!  They deserve a little TLC too!

So, what is the best way to take care of our best tools? Stretch them!

I talked to an Occupational Therapist about this – she actually recommended  doing hand stretches every 20 minutes, while working or keyboarding.  As if most of us are going to do that!  Ok, so try for at least once an hour,  put your tools down, or push the keyboard away and take care of  you’re very best tools, your hands!

What  are the benefits of taking care of our hands by stretching?  If you have healthy hands, you can help prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries, (RSI)  such as carpal tunnel syndrome and other tendinitis problems, along with keeping your hands and fingers flexible.  If you have arthritis or tendinitis,  you get the same benefits, plus helping reduce the pain.   If you have arthritis or tendinitis, it’s important to listen to your body, if the stretches are making your hands hurt worse,  don’t do them quite as often.

There are several important things to remember when doing stretches

1. Do not overstretch!!!!  This can cause damage.

2.  Stretches should feel good, not painful

3.  Do stretches smoothly and slowly.

4.  Hold the stretches for 10 – 20 seconds, do NOT bounce.

5..  Breath deeply, slowly and naturally.

Stop thinking! and give your hands a little TLC.

 The hand stretches are pretty simple, do each one at least several times each time you stretch.   The one, at the top, second column, is basically moving your hand back and forth and holding it for 10 – 20 seconds.   Bottom one,  is stretching your fingers out and holding them.

Finger stretches and exercises

 The lines drawn on these are what my occupational therapist wanted me to concentrate on for now, but all of them are good for most people. The starting point for each one is with the hand stretched up.   So, if you start with your hand stretched up, then bend your fingers down and go back to stretched up,  and then to the bent position,  both the Tendon Gliding exercises and the the bottom one, the Blocked Tendon Gliding are excellent  to help prevent tendinitis, and promote flexibility – she wanted me to hold off on doing it until my finger settled down.

If you want to be really nice to your hands, give them a nice warm soak, or wrap them in a heating pad, or rice pack for 15 – 20 mins once in a while, more often if you get a little stiff and sore.  Please do not burn yourself!

I am  not a health care professional in any way!  I have had a lot of experience in the health care field, both as a non professional member of, and as a patient.   Please if you are experiencing any problems with your hands, see your Dr.  don’t put it off for months, like I did with my finger!

Tip:  Watch your posture, if your back isn’t straight, your hands have to work harder!

Now, get up and walk around for a few minutes and stretch out the rest of your body!

Written by Lisianblue




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