July 30, 2015

Animator's Guide to Health and Wellness - Part 1

Here are some tips on how to prevent soreness, pain and injury that can be caused from long days of sitting at your desk and animating for many, many hours. All tried, tested and true. Feel free to share for educational purposes. PDF version here.

I can't stress enough the importance of stretching your hands, and forearms every morning and every evening, spend 5-10 minutes going through a stretching routine. These are very easy to do, and takes little time to do them.

It's VERY common in all animation studios for soreness or mild injuries to gradually develop over time. The most typical one is Repetitive Strain Injury, it's a prevalent condition resulting from overusing the hands to perform a repetitive task, such as typing, clicking a mouse, writing, and of course drawing. In simple medical terms, repetitive strain injury (RSI) stems from prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward hand movements. The result is minor damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves of the neck, shoulder, forearm, and most commonly hand and wrist, which can cause pain, weakness, or numbness.

If you're feeling some pains, tingles, weakness, or numbness in the wrist/forearm; one of the best ways to heal quickly are 'Contrasting Baths'.

What crazy voodoo am I speaking of?
A couple different physiotherapists and massage therapists had recommended this technique to me several years ago, and for anyone I knew that tried it, they all say the results are fast and effective.

Commonly used by carpal tunnel suffers, it's a method of treating muscle soreness, swelling and inflammation, it's also known as 'Hot/Cold Immersion Therapy'.

You can use the double sink in your kitchen at home, if you don't have one, then get your hands on two very large identical bowls, it needs to be big enough to submerge your entire forearms from wrist to elbow.

Fill one up with ice cold water, with a few dozen ice cubes floating in there (something to prepare in your freezer the night before). The other with very warm water, not tea-kettle boiling hot water, just hot tap water, or as warm as you can handle, no sense in burning yourself of course.

Have a stop watch or clock ready, and submerge your arms for 30 seconds in the hot, then switch to doing 30 sec. in the cold, and repeat a few times back and forth, 30 seconds a piece. After only a few times you'll notice the hot water getting cooler and the cold water getting warmer, so then the technique grows to be less effective, but by then, the job is done.

The idea is that the extreme heat and cold contracts and expands your blood vessels, promoting greater blood flow to circulate and flush through your arms, and increased blood flow is what aids in healing the soreness much faster.



Franklin Castillo said...

Hello, big wacom user here, I would suggest the followings: Move your hand from the shoulder, have hotkeys to move from key to key, and from frame to frame, and more importantly, don't stress out, it's only a shot, a sequence, a short or a movie and nothing else! :P

Ron said...

Sound advice, thanks Frank!

walder johan said...

thanks a lot - I had once the tennis elbow injury drawing... it s real :-)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had RSI and then recovered? How did you get better?

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Ivo Isla Solther said...

Thank you Ron! Brilliant post!

Morag said...

Thank you so much for this!! Really helpful.

Rana Haani said...

thank you for info.............

Corrie Parks said...

Having had debilitating RSI in my wrists, I wholly concur!

I had to pretty much stop using the computer for 3 months after trying every medical and physical therapy option outside of surgery. Now I keep close tabs on the tension in my shoulders and any hint of soreness in my wrists. I also find switching positions throughout the day really helpful. I'll sit on an exercise ball for a few hours, work on my laptop in an easy chair, then back to the desktop in an office chair. I just invested in a sit/stand desk (from IKEA - totally affordable!) and it keeps me up and down all day.

I share this post with my students every semester. Thanks for writing it all down.

qwertzuihina said...

Hi there :)

I am studying animation at university in Lucerne, Switzerland.
For my written Bachelor essay, I will write about health issues when working as an animator. Of course, Tendonitis will be a huge topic.

A friend of mine showed me your pdf and I was really impressed. Since I suffer from hand - ache as well, I really want to try out all your ideas.

But for my essay, I really need to know if you copied this health and wellness guide, or if you did it by yourself. I really would love to quote some passages, but I am scared to do so if it's not your original work (I am scared of plagiarism and don't want to risk writing informations from unknown sources, so I really need to know).

I would be very glad if you could write me (langvera@gmx.ch or contact me through www.magpictures.ch ). I really hope you can help me out there :)

Thank you very much,


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Octavio Johnson said...

Health is wealth. So let us always take care of ourselves.

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Janet Ali said...

This is absolutely awesome! I also suffer from joint pain as i work as a receptionist, im always in front of the computer. thanks for your input.

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Really helpful, thanks. I've been struggling with back and wrist problems for years, thanks to long days at the drawing board and bad habits like pretending my pencil is a sword and the paper is a dragon. Finding good information on this subject has been a struggle, so I really appreciate your sharing it!

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