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  1. #1
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    Back muscle pain from drawing posture?

    It's a haunting pain, it really does take away most of the pleasure from drawing. Mine is probably related to my weak back, but the way some of the muscles tense up when I draw end up giving me a sharp muscle pain right before my shoulder blade, closer to the spine.
    I'm considering some back support which would take away some of the stress from it.

    Do you have any such art-related pain? How do you cope? How do you treat it?


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  3. #2
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    I get back pain if I draw/sit for too long, I used to get it more, when I sat on a stool at a drawing desk to draw (my computer was on the desk). I invested in an ergonomic chair-which cost a fair amount, but was well worth it-you really can't cut corners when your career/well-being is at stake. Another thing that helped me was to get a stand for my screen, to make it head-height-that way I can sit upright and I'm not stooping to see the screen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonster View Post
    Mine is probably related to my weak back, but the way some of the muscles tense up when I draw end up giving me a sharp muscle pain right before my shoulder blade, closer to the spine.
    You might want to figure out where your pain really comes from.
    For example, a couple of months ago I had pain in my neck, high up. When I went looking for the cause I initially ended up with the lower part of my shoulder blade. Working on that eased the problem (adjusted chair a little to relief the shoulder).
    But the real problem originated from my lower back, I was standing/sitting wrong which caused tension on my shoulder and because of that my neck played up.

    Most of the problems I had because of this at work disappeared when I lowered my desk and chair by about 7cm. This way my legs are more relaxed and my lower back position is slightly different from the way it was.
    At home I still get some pains back when I sit at my desk for over an hour, I'm going to get a new chair and I'm going to see if I can adjust my desk more.

    It might be that you don't need additional support but just sit a little different.

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  6. #4
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    Do some pull-ups, stretches, sit-ups and light back exercises (shrugs, deadlifts, etc. if you can get to a gym) to strengthen the muscles. And don't sit like a hunchback (says he, typing this whilst sitting like a hunchback).

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    Having a great chair is ultra important, but no chair is going to substitute for actually staying fit and flexible in the long run, and being sensible about posture. As your muscles become more flaccid or weak with overstrain, your body will rely more and more on tendon strength alone to hold your skeletal system together in a decent posture, and this is recipe for absolute physical disaster, slipped discs being issue number 1. Neck strain can cause a cascade of nerve problems into the face and down the arms, strain of the gluteals can cause a cascade of nerve problems down the legs as any sitting position at all will be more likely to impinge a nerve if the surrounding muscles aren't solid enough to properly protect the nerve (myelin sheaths are easily damaged). So strength training, endurance training, and stretching are required in both areas.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but an artist who isn't staying in shape on a daily basis, does not have "the perfect chair" and hasn't learned to keep a neutral body position at work is in the process of crippling himself.
    At least Icarus tried!


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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonster View Post
    Mine is probably related to my weak back, but the way some of the muscles tense up when I draw end up giving me a sharp muscle pain right before my shoulder blade, closer to the spine.
    Yeah, I used to get that same pain.

    It's most likely caused by your posture.
    I bet you lean back in your chair, and then stretch your arm forward to use your mouse/wacom.
    The over extension of your arm puts a lot of repetitive stress on some of the deep muscles around the shoulder blade, namely the Infraspinatus Musde.

    I never realized I was doing it until I made a conscientious effort to avoid it.
    Just question your posture ALL the time.
    The moment you start to lean back, you need to catch yourself, and break the habit.

    Like Baron suggested, do a few sit-ups.
    It may seem odd, but the key to a strong back is a strong stomach.
    It relieves a lot of the burden the back muscles endure.
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  11. #7
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    I used to run into this as well, so once a week I do back exercises (shoulder aren't bad for you either, since the whole region can affect your neck as well) and it's not even half as bad anymore.

    Plus getting some blood moving in general is really good for you considering we as artists don't often get a lot of movement in our daily routine. Lifting some small weights, even just to blow off steam from a client or to be able to sleep later does a lot of good for your well being as an artist.

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    Yeah I've experienced the same problem. I've discovered that a simple routine session of walking & stretching cures it.

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    Had the same shit. Watch the posture and try to exercise.

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    Same here - really painful. Then I started to exercise and be careful about my posture and its been gone for a long time

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    I'll be incorporating some exercising bits into my life from now on. Spending a day with such muscle pain is utterly terrible, and nothing really seems to help, unless I sort of massage that area.

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    Another thing to try... Lean your back against a wall, and then drop a tennis ball over your shoulder and shimmy it down to the area of discomfort on your trapezius and then roll the ball around against the wall and your sore spot. Not too hard, but its a good way to self massage.
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Weak abs are often the root cause of a bad back.

    One of the best starts to keep back pain down is just to be wary of your posture when you sit: sit up straight (sorry to sound like your mother ), keep your abs tight <---do this often enough, it becomes second nature.

    Be wary of this when standing/walking as well. It's easy to spot future back issues - just see who about you is standing/walking with poor posture.

    (I apologize if this all has been posted previously here, I didn't read through the thread before posting the above )

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    Basically anyone i know who paints for a living have some degree of pain in that area between the spine and shoulderblade. Its quite fixable with posture and exercise, like others have mentioned. But you need to be constantly checking your posture, because when you start feeling the pain it is already too late - you need to rest and shake it off. When it comes to exercise, i find that trapezoid and deltoid exercises are best for preventing this. I do an exercise i believe is called lateral dumbbell raises, and one where i lie face down on a bench and lift the dumbbells off the ground with my elbows bent and my arms sticking out from my body.

    Then again, it needs to be both exercise and posture, cuz one won't do too much good without the other.

    //Edit: Everything i just said has already been mentioned. And i forgot about the abs. Yay!

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    For whatever cause, you are suffering muscle spasms, which are aggravated when you are in "bad" posture, such as drawing.

    I was in a car accident decades ago, and had this problem. My shoulder area started a "sympathy ache," just reading this.

    Can't help you beyond a simple stretching exercise taught to me by a Physical Therapist after a year of Chiropractic treatement that didn't really help...
    It was suggested I do this at least 3-5 times throughout the day, whenever that ache would flare up.

    Stand up, knees slightly bent.
    Push your shoulders down and back, and suck your stomach in. Hold this for a count of 5, and feel your body core. This is an approximation of good posture. Now relax. It helps once in awhile, to remind yourself of this.

    Now, with a relaxed version of that posture, raise your hands over your head and clasp them together. Inhale slowly to a count of 3.

    With your shoulders pushed together, keeping your elbows out to your sides, slowly bring your arms down as you exhale, ending with your elbows at your side, and your hands at shoulder level. Inhale as you bring your arms back up and repeat 2 more times, 3 reps total.

    Do not, repeat, DO NOT force yourself to the point of pain, just to the point of feeling the muscles as you contract them when you bring your arms down.. The more you do this, the more you will stretch out.
    Don't overdo it, and don't overextend. Slow, controlled, and gentle are the keywords.

    The therapist said that this exercise redirects the musles that are spasming, forcing them to contract in a linear direction, without twisting. This helps "un kink" the fibrous "knots" that ache.

    Another "aide" was a tennis ball with an 'x' cut on one end, and glued to a dowel. You gently "beat" on that shoulder "knot" to help loosen the muscles, similar to a massage.

    I still have the injury, and it still knots up from time to time, but just that stretching exercise alleviates a lot of it.

    Hope you find some relief.
    ~M
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    Good tips I should note them all. Pain is the beginning and the end of every day for me. I have suffered from chronic pain for so long that I can't imagine life without it anymore.

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    Man great tips, I've been having more and more back troubles lately. I've been working on my posture but it's good to know that strengthening my abs can help! (Just what I need, yet another reason for me to do crunches... Ick.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by idoru View Post
    Man great tips, I've been having more and more back troubles lately. I've been working on my posture but it's good to know that strengthening my abs can help! (Just what I need, yet another reason for me to do crunches... Ick.)
    Then do them standing. They're called "suck ups," and just involve contracting your stomach muscles and relaxing.

    Supposedly, if you do 2000 crunches/situps/suckups a day, you will have "washboard" abs. But at 1 per second, thats still like 45 minutes a day of nothing but stomach contractions...Double Ick!

    ~M
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  25. #19
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    Oh ooo I didn't know that was actually worth anything, haha. I do that sometimes at work though. I DO have a routine of crunches I do sort of sporadically, it did seem to help when I was doing it more often. (This is sort of sad as I am a mere child of 20!)

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    Back muscle pain from drawing posture?
    Back muscle pain from drawing posture?
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    I've found the best abs regime to strengthen your midsection is around 3 sets to failure, every two days, alternating between crunches and full situps each week. The key is to do them with good form and not stop each set until you literally can't do another one. Wait one minute between each set. This should work out as something like 20 reps, 12 reps, 8 reps. Time taken - around 10 minutes a week max.

    Muscle strength in adulthood - very (very!) simplistically - comes from the muscle tissue being broken down by resistance stress and the body overcompensating for the damage, creating stronger tissue. That's why you need to stress the muscle with intense sets rather than tire it out with marathan 2-hour sessions, which can actually result in muscle weakness.

    Bear in mind this is only to strengthen the midsection and support the back. It won't help you get a flat stomach!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    I've found the best abs regime to strengthen your midsection is around 3 sets to failure, every two days, alternating between crunches and full situps each week. The key is to do them with good form and not stop each set until you literally can't do another one. Wait one minute between each set. This should work out as something like 20 reps, 12 reps, 8 reps. Time taken - around 10 minutes a week max.
    WAAAAYYYYY too complicated, and the words "to failure" and "until you can't literally do another one" are aimed at people who actually LIKE to do this sort of thing...

    You are talking to people who, as you have gathered, are not super into exercise, 'k? If I tried your regimine, I would stop at probably 3 suck ups, never getting NEAR the floor...never mind 3 sets to failure...

    That's why suck ups are better (Back muscle pain from drawing posture?, because you don't have to go down to the floor (after too many runs down the slopes over the years, my knees have convinced me to stay upright as much as possible and avoid the ground...), and you can do them almost anywhere (I find they DO help pass the time in checkout lines, and are more benficial than reading the trash rags while in line...

    Of course, Baron, I would expect your abs to be those glorious, corded, things, that artists yearn to capture and women yearn to nibble, with an exercise program such as you describe, so I am in no way trying to discourage you, only to claify that such techniques are not too helpful for those of us with far softer, flabbier, out of shape, condition.

    But perhaps you could upload a picture of your abs for ahh...umm...visual motivation, yeah! That's it! Visual Motivation on why your excercise program is the way to go...And we all promise not to lick our monitors if your abs are really that fabulous...


    "3 sets to failure..." too funny!
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    Quote Originally Posted by madster View Post
    WAAAAYYYYY too complicated, and the words "to failure" and "until you can't literally do another one" are aimed at people who actually LIKE to do this sort of thing...
    Nah, I don't like it. The benefit is you don't have to because it's only 3 minutes per session. Just do three sets and that's it. If you can only do 4 or 5 reps that's fine. You can do it anywhere, even in the office if your boss doesn't mind.

    The key is - in this discussion - to gain strength and therefore support the back. The problem with high reps low intensity is that it doesn't have much of an effect on strength. And if something's easy it's generally not much good.

    Quote Originally Posted by madster View Post
    Of course, Baron, I would expect your abs to be those glorious, corded, things, that artists yearn to capture and women yearn to nibble, with an exercise program such as you describe, so I am in no way trying to discourage you, only to claify that such techniques are not too helpful for those of us with far softer, flabbier, out of shape, condition.
    Honestly, it's easy. If you can lie on the floor you can do it and it won't cause any strains or injuries. Don't let the terminology put you off, it's just doing as many good sit-ups / crunches as you can. Three times.

    Quote Originally Posted by madster View Post
    But perhaps you could upload a picture of your abs for ahh...umm...visual motivation, yeah! That's it! Visual Motivation on why your excercise program is the way to go...And we all promise not to lick our monitors if your abs are really that fabulous...
    Ha, you won't convince me. They're still visible - just - but have a little too much covering for my liking, something I need to work on. That said, I was a bodybuilder for 15 years so they are in there somewhere...

  30. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    I've found the best abs regime to strengthen your midsection is around 3 sets to failure, every two days, alternating between crunches and full situps each week. The key is to do them with good form and not stop each set until you literally can't do another one. Wait one minute between each set. This should work out as something like 20 reps, 12 reps, 8 reps. Time taken - around 10 minutes a week max.
    Baron,

    I think you are mixing up two things here: muscle strength and muscle mass.
    When I think of training 'weak' muscles I'm thinking about the exercises you would get from a physiotherapist and not the ones you would get from someone in the gym. And I know for sure that they won't advice working to failure. Besides that, doing abs workouts wrong put serious stress on your back.

    Two exercises I remember from my past are lying on the floor while 'riding bicycle' in the air with your legs and the other one lying on the floor with knees up and slowly pushing the pelves from the floor while supporting the back with both hands. But when I have back problems or suspect weak muscles I just call my therapist and make an appointment to go through the best exercises for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the_jos View Post
    Baron,

    I think you are mixing up two things here: muscle strength and muscle mass.
    When I think of training 'weak' muscles I'm thinking about the exercises you would get from a physiotherapist and not the ones you would get from someone in the gym. And I know for sure that they won't advice working to failure. Besides that, doing abs workouts wrong put serious stress on your back.
    Strength and mass / density are closely related in an individual. What I suggested won't turn your abs into a bulging six-pack, it will simply strengthen them.

    I'm not aware that the OP had any muscular problems with his stomach, therefore there's no need to do the type of exercises that are designed for rehabilitiation, i.e. as suggested by a physio. Those exercises are generally designed to bring a muscle group or bodypart back to normal performance. They will help blood flow and flexibility but do nothing to strengthen a healthy bodypart.

    If you do sitsups in a controlled manner they won't hurt the back at all, assuming there's no actual injury to the back. Of course, this should always be checked out first, just in case.

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    Speaking of art pains, does anyone else get a really intense pain in their hand when they draw? I thought it was because I was clutching the pencil too hard, so I've tired to soften my grip and press more softly on the paper, but I still get it whenever I draw for long periods of time. The pain never runs all the way up my arm like carpel tunnel is supposed to and never feels numbing, just aching. I stretch my hand many many times a day and sometimes run it under hot water while rubbing it to relieve the pain.

    I get the pain even worse when I write than when I draw.

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    As a fairly tall person I have to be extra-wary of back problems (the taller you are, the more stress your back has to put up with). And honestly, besides being careful when lifting things the best advice is work on your abs. Gets strong abs and your back won't be doing nearly as much work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    Strength and mass / density are closely related in an individual. What I suggested won't turn your abs into a bulging six-pack, it will simply strengthen them.
    10-20 Repetition till exhaustion is done to create tiny fractures in the muscle to allow it to grow. When I was training for pure strength a couple of years ago I was doing high intencity burst training (like 250kg leg press, 3 reps max). I hardly gained mass but my strength improved a lot. When training for mass I would use your method or variations on it.
    Also don't forget that getting a six-pack has far more to do with lowing body fat as with actual muscle training (though some is needed).

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    I'm not aware that the OP had any muscular problems with his stomach, therefore there's no need to do the type of exercises that are designed for rehabilitiation, i.e. as suggested by a physio. Those exercises are generally designed to bring a muscle group or bodypart back to normal performance. They will help blood flow and flexibility but do nothing to strengthen a healthy bodypart.
    I do disagree with you here.
    Normal body performance is all that's needed to prevent back problems.
    The real underlying problem is that we nowadays don't work enough with some of our muscles so they become weaker. So they actually don't function normal.
    There is no need for a vigorous exercise to bring them up to 'normal' performance which should be enough to prevent most back problems.
    The physio exercises are enough to achieve this when done regular and with enough repetitions.
    Crunches can be part of this, but less intense traning is often enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Impossible View Post
    If you do sitsups in a controlled manner they won't hurt the back at all, assuming there's no actual injury to the back. Of course, this should always be checked out first, just in case.
    Agree

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katfayheirti View Post
    Speaking of art pains, does anyone else get a really intense pain in their hand when they draw?
    Not when I draw, but sometimes when I write. I used to get that sort of dull pain during my school exams, writing for hours on end.

    I agree with The Jos here, it's more about strengthening the muscles that get weakened from the lack of movement and action. Artist's plague is the constantly sitting position, coupled with a desk job - it's the ultimate formula for doom.

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