Hand, Wrist, Neck, & Shoulder Stretches & Exercises for Artists - Ask Doctor Jo

By: AskDoctorJo

Hey everybody it's Doctor Jo, and today I'm going to show you some stretches and exercises for artists. Let's get started. Sweet Willow Designs sent me a message asking me to do a stretching and exercise program for artists who tend to have pain and their neck, shoulders, wrists, and fingers, so that's what I'm going to show you today. We're going to start off with the neck. I'm going to go through the exercises a little bit faster than normal just to get through all of them for you. Typically with stretches, you to hold them for about 30 seconds. You can do 10 to 15 seconds and just do a couple more sets of them.

So let's start off with the trap muscles. Those tend to get really irritated especially when you're focusing on something your head tends seem to lean forward just a little bit, so for a trap stretch, you're going to take the hand of the side that you're stretching and either push it straight down to keep that shoulder down, or you can sit on it. You want to keep your head in a straight neutral position in front of you and then take the hand of the opposite side and gently pull it over to the side. So again, you'd hold it for about 30 seconds, we're just going to do about 10 or 15 to save some time, but again you don't have to put your hand down like this, but it's going to stretch a lot better if you keep that shoulder down when you're stretching. And then after that 30 seconds, switch sides and do the other one. So you usually want to do 30 seconds three on each side, and you'll feel that stretch right in through there. So just holding it, get that nice stretch.

It should feel good, it shouldn't hurt so if it's painful back off just a little bit. Stretches should always be a good hurt, not a bad hurt. And doing three on each side for those. Then we're going to go into the wrists and arms just a little bit doing some stretches for those wrist extensors and those wrist flexors which are ones that tend to get really irritated especially with artists who are doing a lot of stuff with our hands. So put your arms straight out in front of you, and to stretch the flexors underneath, you're going to bring your hand up this way.

Hand, Wrist, Neck, & Shoulder Stretches & Exercises for Artists - Ask Doctor Jo

Now pulling this way might be a lot of a stretch under there, so if you just want to hold it there you can. You can put pressure with your hand or if you have a wall you can put your hand on the wall, and again holding that for about 30 seconds. If this is too much, you can do it with your fist and it won't be quite as much of a stretch under there and pull it, but if you want a little bit more, fingers up when you're stretching.

And especially if you're an artist like doing sculpture and stuff do both sides. If you are drawing something, you might just want to do one side, but I always recommend doing both sides just to keep everything even while you're stretching. Then the next stretch is getting the extensor wrist muscles so that's going down this way. So this one's the opposite, the fingers straight are not quite as much of a stretch. If you want a little bit more than that, make your hand into a fist, curl those fingers in, and then pull and then you really should feel it out there that stretch right there. So again, holding it for 30 seconds or doing 10 to 15 maybe 4 or 5 times, 30 seconds three times, or if you know you're in a hurry you're just taking a little break, five-minute break in between what you're doing, you can just do 5 to 10 seconds, once or twice just to get everything nice and stretched out, and then get right back into it again. So after you do those, then you're going to go stretch your thumb here because again a lot of that is gripping doing things, so to get the thumb extensors take your thumb put it down, and grab over it like that so you're hiding your thumb in your fingers, and then go down this way. So that should stretch the top right there, and again holding that for about 30 seconds, or if you wanted to do both of them and just do kind of a continuous motion you can do that as well.

If that's too much, you can put your thumb on top, but to get that extra stretch tuck it in there and hold it down and that's radial deviation right there, getting that nice stretch. Then you can stretch the flexors by taking the thumb and just pulling out a little bit. The same thing, you want these to be comfortable you don't want them to be super painful, so if it's hurting a little bit, take a little bit of pressure off of it. And sometimes arthritis will set in in those joints there, and you want to keep those stretched out nice, but you don't want to over stretch them and irritate those spots. Ok so after you get the thumbs, you can do the webbing in between your fingers by just stretching them out a little bit like that. For this one it doesn't necessarily have to be a 30-second hold since there's a whole bunch of them, but just kind of going back and forth just stretching those spots in between there really just getting that nice stretch in there, and again doing both sides, and you should feel that right in the nook right there, and it's a very nice feeling stretch. Then to strengthen the fingers a little bit, all you need is just a rubber band. It doesn't have to be anything special, but you're just going to wrap the band like this around and just come open, spreading the fingers a little bit.

So you don't have to go all the way out because the rubber band my pop or it might slide down, but this is just getting those fingers strengthened a little bit, getting them moving going back and forth so probably just five to 10 of these especially if you're doing it while you're working. Again you don't want to overwork these muscles, you just want to kind of stretch them out and get them going a little bit. Now going back into the wrist a little bit, a wrist stretch exercise is an exercise well that I really like, you have to rig something up a little bit, but it's not too hard to rig up.

You can take a stick or cane if you have it, just something solid that you can hold on to. Take a little string of some sort, tie it in a knot, and then put some weight on it. These are just two tennis balls her wrapped up, it was the quickest thing I can find, but it doesn't have to be a lot. It can be one pound, two pounds, three pounds, but you hold it out and then making sure that the Rope is tight so it will roll, you're just going to kind of roll it up this way. So see how I'm working my wrist? And then after you roll it up, then come back down, but try and make it a smooth motion. And this is surprisingly a lot of work on the wrist, so you're really going to be able to feel it while you're doing it, and then you can rotate back the other way to get those extensors, and then roll it down to get those flexors. So again, this is a lot of exercise for these muscles because they're small and so it doesn't take a lot, so I would just do to one way to the other way and then be done with that.

And so the last one is going to be doing some pendulums for your shoulder really to loosen those up because those get really tight as well. I'm gonna stand up for that. For the pendulums, you're just gonna hang your arm down. Standing up is easier. If you're sitting down and you don't really want to stand up, you can just lean over if you've got a desktop to hold onto but it is a lot easier standing up.

You want your arm to be completely relaxed. You're not actually moving the arm, you're moving your body so the arm's really just kind of hanging there opening up that joint, really loosening those muscles around the shoulder, so just let it hang and move your whole body to make the circle. So it's not going to be big circles and you're probably going to activate the arm just a little bit if you don't have an injury, that's ok, but just really try and let it hang. That helps those muscles relax and do so about ten one way and then reverse it and do 10 circles the other way. Then you can do 10 kind of side to side, again just you're moving your body to let the arm kind of swing, and then after you do 10 of those kind of then go front to back. So again just moving that whole body letting that arm kinda hang, letting those muscles relax getting everything nice and loose and feeling good. Getting that tension out of your body. So there you have it.

Those were your stretches and exercises for artists. Sweet Willow Designs, I hope that helps. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section. If you like check out some other videos go to askdoctorjo.com. Remember safe, keep your body happy, Have fun, drawing something pretty for me, and I hope you feel better soon.

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