Wednesday, February 16

HAND JOBS

Now that I've got your attention, I want to talk about hands. Yes there's a job attached, but... just keep reading.

I read a lot of blogs about writing and there are a ton of writers offering information about technique, style, formatting, editing—all very useful in our profession.  But I haven't seen anything about writer health.

Now you may be wondering "Sable, you promised us hand jobs.  What's this health crap?" I'm getting to it, and there's even lotion and a "happy ending" of sorts.

Writing is every bit the job as any other.  We require the same degree of skill and steadiness of hand as a surgeon; the dexterity of an accomplished pianist or a trained mechanic.  So why don't we recognize that, like these other professions, our hands are our livelihoods?  Truly, they're second in importance only to our brains.

If you're like me you sit down to your computer (after you've managed to finally solve of the crises in your household) and start pecking out what you hope will be the next bestseller.  Or maybe your a purist and take up a pen and pad. To each his/her own. The common denominator is that we're all working our fingers to the bone, but have we done anything to take care of them?

I could go into a great deal of detail about the connection between the hands and the brain (and finally get some use out of that biology degree collecting dust on my mantle) but I'll keep it short.  Jacob Bronowski said "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind," and he's right!  About 25% of the motor cortex (the part of the brain that makes movement possible) is devoted to hand muscles.  25%!  And your hands have over 30 muscles apiece, each one working in concert to help your fingers dance across your keyboard while you kill off a character.  So keeping your hands healthy and happy is pivotal to the longevity of your career.

First thing you should do before you sit down to write is warm up you hands.  You wouldn't just jump onto a treadmill and start running, would you? No, you'd probably stretch a little first.  Same thing here.  Wrist extensions, rotations, and finger aerobics are helpful.  Livestrong has a great little warm up that you can check out.

Those squishy balls with the cutesy faces are also helpful in maintaining the muscle strength and tone in your hands, as well as helping to dissipate the stress that comes with trying to figure out a new and improved way to get Tab A into Slot B that doesn't defy the laws of Physics.  Unless you write paranormals in which case Physics is all relative.  Yes, that was a smart joke.  Moving on...

All right, so you've warmed up your hands and your squeezing balls, now comes the happy ending —the hand massage!  Yes, you should massage your hands and do it every other day if not daily.  It's easy, and only takes a few minutes.  Apply some lotion (see, lotion, as promised) and knead your precious assets.  Really work 'em, too.  Use the pad of your thumb of one hand to dig into the web of the other using a circular motion. Lace your fingers and squeeze using alternating movements.  With a corkscrew motion, use one hand to grip and twist around each finger working from the base to the tip (familiar?)  Bonus if your fingers crack, but that's not the main goal.  Then rub around your wrist, taking care to work around all the bones.

Okay, the hand and wrist are nice and lubed, but you should also massage all the way up to your elbow.  Why? 'Cause I said so! Kidding. Because that's where the muscles that control the wrist, hand, and fingers start.

Hold your left arm out palm up.  Now cup your right hand under the elbow.  The fingertips of your right hand should be pressing into the outside edge of your left elbow. Next step, turn your left hand palm down.  Feel that? That thick, ropey muscle under your right fingers?  Rub that and any area around it that's tender.  Then you can smooth the heel of your hand all over your forearm applying pressure and paying attention to areas that are particularly sore. Not only should this massage help keep your muscles limber, it also feels really good and has the added benefits of hand reflexology, which goes on to work other places in the body without moving away from your hands.  Don't forget to switch arms and repeat, 'cause no one likes to be on the "owe you one" side of a 68.  Best hand job EVER, right?  I'm sure there are guys that'll disagree, but this version of the hand job can have benefits outside of writing, too ;)

The bottom line is, as writers, we have to take care of our bodies just like in any other profession.  We're prone to the same repetitive use injuries, the same sedentary cramps and constrictions, so make sure you're doing something to keep your prized digits limber and feeling good.

If you want detailed info on hand and forearm massage, a quick Google or Youtube search will yield results.  But if you've got the change, a good massage therapist can whip your hands into shape in no time!

What are you doing to keep your hands from injury?  Tell me about it below!

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*Yes, it's sad I need one, but this is an official disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. There, I said it.

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Quick and dirty, I’m a writer of multicultural erotica, erotic thrillers, seductive romances, and whatever else comes to mind. Tattooed vixen. Wicked humorist. Incurable humanist. Proud geek! Closet badass. (Shhh…) Lover of pit bulls, fast cars, all music, and candy. THAT’S THE NUT IN A NUTSHELL.