Nothing ruins a creative groove more than realizing you can't draw a straight line anymore because your wrist keeps cramping. Or you can't get comfortable in your chair because your back is sore. Or you can barely turn your head because you've got a crick in your neck.
My problem areas when lettering are my neck and shoulders. I usually hunch over and tense my muscles up. My wrists and back also start to bother me if I sit in the same position for too long. Thanks to my yoga practice, I've discovered some great stretches that can easily be done at your desk.
- Extend your right arm out in front of you, palm facing down. Use your left hand to push your right hand down. Your hand should be folding at the wrist crease. Hold for a few seconds then repeat on the other side.
- Bring your palms together in the center of your chest. Keep them together while moving both hands down towards your belly.
Shoulder + Neck Stretches
- Sit up straight with your arms down at your sides. Move your left ear down towards your left shoulder. Wrap your left arm over the top of your head (not in front of your face) to place your left hand on or near your right ear. Gently pull your head down. Hold for a few seconds then repeat on the other side.
- Scoot to the edge of your seat (or stand up). Reaching your arms down and behind your back, clasp both hands together by interlacing your fingers (thumbs pointing down towards your bottom). Begin to straighten your arms and lock your elbows if you can. Meanwhile, look down towards the ground and pull your shoulders down and away from your neck. If you're standing and want a deeper stretch, fold forward at your hips and start to raise your hands up and towards the front.
- Cross your right arm over your left arm in front of you. Try to cross them at your elbows. Bend your elbows and continue to wrap your forearms around each other until you're able to put your left fingers in your right palm. Keep your arms wrapped while pulling them away from your torso and try to lift them so your elbows come up to the height of your shoulders. Uncross slowly and repeat on the other side.
- Fold forward at your hips until your upper body is resting on your thighs. Let your head hang and let your hands drop down by your feet. Hold for a few seconds then unwind back up slowly.
- Face forward and sit up straight. Keep your bottom planted and twist towards the right. You can use your chair to pull a little and deepen the twist. Repeat on the other side.
Sitting at a desk all day can take it's toll on your body. There's certainly more you can do to develop better work habits, but these stretches will get you started. Whether you're lettering with pencils or pixels, remember to take a break and stretch.