My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.
I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media. It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.
At the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise. Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.
Perhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.
From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies. Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.
This is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset.
She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.
"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."
With both feet on the floor,
Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.
Put left hand under left sit bone, palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .
Reach straight up with right arm.
Lean head to right.
Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line.
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.
Stay here for a few breaths.
Lower head down another couple of inches,
Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.
Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.
Release overhead arm.
Roll chin to chest.
Release the hand you are sitting on.
Leave head hanging.
Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self massage.
Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up
Repeat neck stretch on the other side.