Getting handsy

If you’ve been a long time reader (hello, I love you!) you’d know that I have a “repetitive strain injury” in my right arm from working too hard at being a graphic artist. I have had a lot of therapy in the last few years with no real result because I’m very stubborn (no wait, ambitious and driven!) and won’t give up work to allow my arm to heal. Recently I’ve been worried about my arm because I’m enduring daily pain and discomfort and I have hard nodules along my forearm. I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance, so the awareness of new pain along with a notable restriction of range of movement within my hand has been concerning. Especially considering how busy with work I am becoming – it’d just be cruel to have my career taken away just as it was gaining momentum!

As part of my new “Let’s Look After Natalie’s Arm” regime, I have done a few things:
• I bought a tennis elbow strap which has been quite effective in minimising the spasms along my most overworked tendon. I’ve also been told I have golfer’s elbow too – which means both sides of my elbow are giving me grief!!
• I’ve been doing weights that focus on building wrist, forearm, upper arm and shoulder strength.
• Increasing my awareness of taking mini-breaks while I’m working. Every half an hour I try to get up, shake out my arms and shoulders and do some stretches. Sometimes I’ll even dance for 5 minutes. It’s hard to remember to do this, because I get into quite a meditative state while I’m working and hours can pass before I come up for air. This contributes to my RSI quite significantly.

I also bought a product called Handmaster Plus to try out. The squeezy ball is a bit of an old Busy And Important Business Man’s office toy, and up until now I kind of dismissed it. However I saw a youtube video with the creator of the product and was intrigued by the stretchy finger loops that are threaded through the squeezy ball. The price was right so I bought a set of three – soft, medium and firm.

Handmaster Plus!

Handmaster Plus!

The blue ball and yellow elastics are the easiest, and I’ve found that it’s definitely working out my hand and forearm – however I’ve ended up with a really sore and inflamed tendon on my left hand! I’m sure this can be attributed to me overworking it and not knowing my limit (here’s where having a lower pain threshold is handy!)

Handmaster Plus! Handmaster Plus!
The red ball with the black elastic is for medium resistance, and the orange ball with grey elastic is the hardest. It’s really hard. I can’t squeeze it at all! I’ll keep on with the hand exercises using the Handmaster Plus, and I’m hoping that I’ll see an improvement in strength and range of movement. One day I’m totally gonna pwn that orange squeezy ball!

(Aside – I hope you enjoyed my chipped nail polish, Ms Faux Fuchsia would be most disgusted!)


  1. Oh god, I hope your strategies improve your situation!

    I have never been diagnosed with anything (mostly because I also have a pretty high tolerance for aches and pains), but I've broken my left elbow twice and left wrist once and I can pretty much predict the weather with my spasms (it's especially bad if there's a dramatic shift between rain and shine). The pain has spread to most of the joints in my fingers and I also get similar pains in my left foot. When I broke my left wrist I took my cast off right away and didn't go back to any of my Dr. Hand appointments. Shortly thereafter I had a brief stint waiting tables and it was murder.

    As well, I'm totally jealz of your halfmoons. I've been dying to try that since I saw it on a Dior runway show last year.

    Anyway, feel better & I hope you keep us updated!

  2. I'm a graphic designer too. A few years ago I switched to an Evoluent vertical mouse ( – it looks bizarre and freaks out everyone who enters my cubie, but it has *really* helped with forearm and wrist pain. It only takes a half hour or so to get used to, which is nice.

    Sorry you're having pain – that's the worst!

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