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Look after your body. Stretches for carvers.

When carving, you may spend a long time sitting in the same pose. You put stress on the same muscles and eventually you may get pain, fatigue or even chronic muscle conditions. To avoid that, you have to remember about your body, and stretch the muscles that are contracted while you are working on your project. This way you will relax and reduce pain and fatigue that may occur.

How are you sitting?

First of all, eliminate the unnecessary bend forward. When you are slouching, you put a lot of stress on your spine and muscles. Relax and find the upright position when your back is straight and the natural curve of the spine is present. Use an armchair, lean your back against the backrest and put a cushion behind your lower back if you wish. The cushion will support the natural curve of the spine. The arms should be supported also, use the armrests. You may also sit at the table and put your arms on the table when you carve. The point is to eliminate any unnatural position and prolonged stress on any of your muscles. Avoid sitting with your neck bent down too much, your neck position should be as natural as possible.

Stretches and exercises

The following are stretches that you may do from time to time to avoid damaging your muscles. Get up from your chair, walk around, relax and take deep breaths. Then you can do some stretches and exercises to give your muscles a little rest and prepare them to work more. When you hold a stretch count to five and release; repeat stretches this way four times. No stretch should be painful; they are not designed to stress your muscles, but to relax them. So keep that in mind when you do the following exercises.

First of all, your eyes. Haven’t thought that there are such exercises? Your eyes have muscles as well, and they too get tired. So every once in a while, take your eyes off the project and let them wander around. It’s great if you are sitting outside or by the window. Focus your sight on some far-away trees, buildings or the clouds. Let your eyes rest a little, and then look at your carving again. Besides relaxing the muscles, looking at the trees or clouds will give you additional inspiration and boost your creativity.

Neck stretches. The first one is to pull your head towards the left shoulder and towards the right shoulder, add some stress with your hand. The second one is to bend your neck forward and backward.

Shoulders. The first stretch is to move your shoulders up and down. The second is to move your arms back to put your shoulder blades close to each other, and then put your arms in front of you to move your shoulder blades away from each other. The third stretch is the rotation of your shoulder. For this, extend your arm to the side, bend it in your elbow and rotate it up and down so that your elbow stays almost in one place and your hand is moving up and down.

Arms. The first stretch is the following. Unite your hands behind your head and move your elbows forward until you feel the muscles stretch, and then backward until you feel the same thing. The second stretch, unite your arms together behind your back and move them up, when you feel the resistance, unclasp them and continue to move them up again until you feel your muscles stretch.

Forearm stretches. Hold your elbows close to your body and extend your hands forward. Rotate your wrist to the left and to the right, so that your thumbs will point inward and then outward.

Wrist exercises. Put your hands into fists and bend them down. The second one is to bend your open palm and fingers back. Do this last one for one hand, helping to put some stress backward on your palm with the other hand. And then switch hands.

Stretch your palm. This one is to stretch your palm outwards. For this, with the other hand, bend your thumb part of the palm towards the back side of your palm and then do the same with the little finger part of the palm. So, stretch your palm open towards the back of the palm. If you have someone who doesn’t mind helping you with this stretch, you can ask this person to sit in front of you, grip your palm with both their hands, the thumbs will be lying on your palm, and then this person may gently try to stretch your palm, bending its sides outwards.

Important warning

We are not doctors, and we don’t know your health condition. First of all, we ask you not to overdo the stretches and stop immediately if you feel any pain. These stretches should be pleasant and bring relief and the feeling of relaxation, not stress. If there is any danger of stretching the muscles for you, don’t do this and consult your doctor first.

It is crucial to let your muscles and your spine rest every once in a while. Doing stretches and keeping your posture correct will help you avoid unnecessary muscle pain and fatigue after carving sessions. Do these breaks while carving and it will boost your productivity, make you feel better and help you to be engaged in your favorite wood carving for longer periods of time.

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