This post is in the same vein as yesterday’s, but will branch out into healthy use of the body throughout the day. Ergonomics is about using your body efficiently, in a manner that supports each action, in order to prevent injury.
Since we practice so much, we are already overusing our hands, arms, shoulders, & back. So paying attention to how we do things during the rest of the day makes sense, the idea being to avoid further stress (that leads to injury).
Let’s start w/breakfast. How heavy are your plates, glasses, silverware, pots, pans, & serving dishes? You may want to look at this & decide to lighten up. Plastic is a lot easier to carry, hand wash, & stack in the cabinets. It may be worth it to be a little (OK, a lot) less fashionable, save the fancy dishes for company, & save your upper body for your art.
After you’ve washed those dishes, they can air-dry. Less work, less gripping plates on the edge (creates stress because of the weight you’re holding, unsupported), more time to practice.
How do you pick up your coffee mug? Try using your whole hand around the mug, the way you hold a glass. The thumb + index finger approach is, again, a gripping hold at a less-than-friendly angle.
You could benefit every day by having a jar opener of some sort. There are several kinds. Maybe you could try a few out in the store before purchasing one.
When you slice food, how do you proceed? Are you holding an apple, say, in mid-air before slicing it in half? That apple should be on a hard surface (counter or table). Hold it firmly w/one hand & slice it, straight down, w/the other. Notice whether your entire arm, shoulder, & back are involved in the motion. They should be. Also, I’m not mechanical & my father had to tell me this: whatever you’re slicing should be close to your body. The further you reach forward, the less supported your arms will be. And I think he said something about leverage….
You’ve seen “fat” pens in stores. Are you using one? Try it! Your grip will open up & you’ll feel more comfortable. Again, notice your entire arm, shoulder, & back moving when you write. Whenever possible, writing should be done while seated at a table or desk. Your writing arm needs the support, w/your forearm on the desk.
Next on the hit parade: shopping! How do you carry packages/bags? Having your arms wrapped around a bag or a box, holding it in front of your body, is way too stressful. You can tell ~ your arms tire quickly. Try using bags w/handles. That way, you carry the weight in a straight line down from your shoulder. No funny angles. Also, try to balance the weight if you can ~ one bag in each hand, for instance.
Smaller-sized products are easier to carry, & to deal with later. (Pouring milk from a quart-sized container is easier to handle than a gallon w/a handle on one side.)
See if you can plan your errands so the heaviest weight you’ll be carrying is @ the end of your route. (If you’re shopping by car, this isn’t an issue.)
And now, everyone’s favorite: the PHONE. When you call a number or txt a message, you’ll be much happier a year from now if you hold the phone in one hand, then operate the keys w/your entire opposite hand. It works like this: put your fingers together, like you’re wearing a mitten. You know, the way your hands are when you walk around w/o holding anything. That’s your natural, least stressful position. From there, you can easily alternate fingers so you use several fingers, not just one. I use my phones like this every day, & I promise, no one will look @ you funny.
When I talk on my land phone, it’s so easy to lean my elbow on the arm of the couch. But that cuts off your circulation. You’ll get tendonitis very quickly that way. So try not to do that! Also, land line hand sets are heavy! Moving your arm from time to time helps.
Other possibilities: use the speaker phone, an earphone, or a headset.
Please don’t txt all the time w/only your thumbs! You need them to do everything else you use your hands for all day long. Just think, practicing is only one part of that. Also applies to video games & the remote.
Ride the bus & subway? Go for a pole rather than straphanging if you can. (You wanted me to assume you’re getting a seat?) If you plant your feet in 2 different directions, then hold onto the pole somewhere in the middle (not way over your head), you’ll be balanced for a long time, lurches & all.
Shrink wrap! Drives me NUTS! I now carry a small Swiss Army knife on my keyring, & use it to break into things almost every day. Keeps me from yelling. Besides the knife blade, the mini-scissors are great, too.
Other helpful things to have around: a stapler that operates w/a handle on the top (standard staplers can murder your wrist in 5 minutes); & a 3-hole punch you can operate w/your whole hand instead of your fingers.
Last idea for now: if you take medications, you can request easy-open caps. If you have children & need childproof caps, they are easier to open if you put your palm on top, then push down & twist.
Hope some of this is useful. Happy trails!
Practiced in this incredible humidity. 2 Bach preludes & fugues, 4 Messiaen preludes, 2 Liszt pieces, & a Gershwin. Total time: 2 hrs.