By: Saba M. Shahid, M.S.
Making any kind of art work 95% of the time requires your hands and is an activity that tends to be a sedentary. Similar to how it is not good to sit in front of your computer for 8 hours at a time at work, it is also not good to work on an art piece without taking breaks to stretch. So, take breaks, stretch, paint and repeat in order to rejuvenate your muscles and body.
Hand exercises can strengthen your wrists and keep your fingers flexible! To help prevent cramping and encourage fine motor movement these are some of the exercises we do during our Painting with Parkinson’s Workshops that help promote a healthy environment.
Try them out! For added benefit, do each exercise 10 times and count out loud to exercise your vocal cords!
- Alternate Colors and Fingers: Imagine that these two colors have been grabbed from your paint palate. Take two fingers and place one on each color. (You can also draw two circles on a piece of paper to do this exercise). You will do the exercise by tapping two fingers while simultaneously alternating which finger you tap. So, start with your pointer finger on the blue blob and your middle finger on the yellow. Tap your pointer finger then your middle finger. Start slow to get comfortable with the movement and then alternate which two fingers you place on the paint blobs. As a challenge, increase your tapping speed and count how many taps you can do in 30 seconds.
- Tennis Ball Squeeze: To make this exercise count you have to squeeze and give it all you got! Make sure you hold the ball in the palm of your hands and wrap your fingers around the ball to completely enclose it. Squeeze your tennis ball for 10-15 seconds then switch to your opposite hand. If you feel comfortable with this exercise challenge yourself to a 30 second squeeze per hand.
- Fingers to Thumb: Stretch your hand out in front of you spreading your fingers as far out as they can possible go. Starting with your pointer finger touch your thumb, bring your pointer finger back to the original position and then bring your middle finger to your thumb. Work your way to your pinky alternating a finger after each touch to the thumb. Make sure your fingers always return to the starting position before moving to the next finger. Start slow and gradually increase the speed as you get better. As a challenge, try and do this exercise simultaneously on both hands.