Injury Prevention from Lauded Comics Writer and Physical Therapist, David Andry
A little over a year ago, David "DB" Andry posted a Twitter thread about how creators can
avoid injury. I reached out to David and asked him if we could publish the thread here for reference. Massive thanks to him for writing it and his expressed permission for us to reproduce it here. I've added in some links and images that may be helpful to readers.
If you'd like to thank him, pick up Resonant the next time you're at your LCS!
Without further ado, here's his thread, all in one place:
Thread about injury prevention for WRITERS, ILLUSTRATORS, COLORISTS, LETTERERS and anybody who sits at a computer for a living. Note: I am not diagnosing or treating any of you specifically, this is general information (don't sue me).
Background: I am a physical therapist with over 14 years of experience working exclusively in [occupational] medicine (worker's comp), so I've seen thousands of people with repetitive strain injuries. I'm also a certified ergonomic specialist and have done 100s of ergo evals. (EDITOR'S NOTE: "ergo evals" is short for "ergonomic evaluations.) Okay, here we go. First thing: MICROBREAKS. Stand and stretch frequently. How frequently? I tell my patients every 30 minutes. Now, if you're dealing with an injury, it has to be more frequent. Ideally, before the pain starts. Be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE. These injuries are all about inflamed tissue. If you work so long that you irritate it, it's like starting the injury all over again. So you may have to break every 10 minutes! "But DB, I'll never get any work done!" How much work will you get done if you have to have surgery? My recommendation is to SET A TIMER. Don't wait for pain or discomfort to tell you to stop and stretch, set that timer when you start working. When it goes off, stand and stretch for 30 seconds and then get back to work. It's a microbreak. Doesn't have to be long, just frequent. What stretches? Whatever feels good. Your body will let you know what you need. Neck, shoulder, wrist, and low back. Give them some variety of movement. Different than what they are doing while you work. Pump your legs, do squats. Get some blood flow going.
"Go for walks, take an outside break, drink lots of water, give your eyes something of different distances to focus on."
Next, ERGONOMICS. You want to stay out of the far ends of your range of motion (looking all the way down, reaching your arm all the way out). For typing, the keyboard should be slightly below elbow height. And close, like you're typing almost in your lap. Your mouse should also be close. Rest your hand on your mouse, not your wrist on your desk and use small shoulder movements to move it. This only works if it's close, if you have to reach for your mouse, your arm will get tired and your neck will hurt. If you use pens, stylus, markers, brushes: the fatter they are, the less stressful they are on your thumb and fingers. I have my patients wrap Coban or Kinesiotape around their pens. It's adjustable and squishy! A slant table or sit-to-stand desk can be good.
Now my favorite, ICE! Yes heat feels good and maybe it works for you, but if the problem is inflammation do you really want to add more heat to that flame? I would try icing immediately after your workday. Watch professional pitchers, professional basketball players, football players. Almost universally, they ice after practice or games. SO THEY RECOVER FASTER. That's what you want, right? To do the same thing the next day. 10-15 minutes until the area is NUMB. Strengthen your body! I'd advise some general scapular and rotator cuff strengthening (Google for specifics). A good study showed that for people with tennis elbow, if they strengthened their shoulder, their elbow improved. Go for walks, take an outside break, drink lots of water, give your eyes something of different distances to focus on. Vary your tasks if you can. Switch between [these] if you have multiple types of work to do instead of doing all of one kind first. That's probably good for now. If you have specific questions, drop them below (EDITOR'S NOTE: Or leave them in the comments here!) and I might answer them if you promise not to sue me. Or find me at ECCC. (Buy Resonant from @thevaultcomics) COVID update: so many people working from home for the first time. Take care of yourself! If you're using a laptop, I'd recommend using the laptop just as a monitor, plugin keyboard, and mouse. Get the top of your monitor to eye height, your keyboard at elbow. Take those breaks!