I’m taking it slow today – and not just because it’s a public holiday in Melbourne. I’ve done something to my right arm. Yes, I am right handed.
It was rather unexpected and silly, though of late I seem to have been especially injury-prone. But it’s made worse by an old war wound… Well, not from a real war. I have a neck injury that stems from a car-accident, but as a result I have a raft of exercises that I have to keep up with in order to work.
From my time as a designer (where I use to regularly sit on a fit-ball in the office – that went out when the neck injury came in) I know what I am supposed to do to keep a good workstation for drafting. And it can be roughly applied to the jewellers bench. Do I exhibit textbook best practice, in hours spent at the bench/computer, and indeed, in my setup? No, not always.
Jewellers are ripe candidates for repetitive strain injury, and come to think of it, industrial accidents, yet discussion focuses more on the latter than the former (which is not to say that there should be less discussion about the obviously dangerous aspects of the job). I’m not the only jeweller I know who carries an injury, and I know people employ varying measures to help keep them in working order.
If we are looking for the textbook best-practitioner in the field of body-friendliness, then Catherine Truman is probably the one. Apart from her jewellery activities, she is also a Feldenkrais practitioner. Having done some Feldenkrais I can say that it promotes a bodily awareness and mindfulness that I think everyone should be taught in childhood. It takes in everything from the most appropriate way to get out of bed to posture when walking, and I can definitely see the benefits it could have to someone doing something as involved as jewellering.
As for me, I have what I learned from another Feldenkrais practitioner (long ago) and exercises prescribed by a sports physiologist, who is also an injury specialist. I have semi-regular remedial massages, for the neck, and I ride an exercise bike for cardio (aiming for five nights a week, though I admit I average 3-4).
Yet at the moment it would seem that all of this is insufficient.
I’ve decided I need to spend more time on breaks, doing stretches, and that I have to continue to work on my posture. I will also try to cut down on hours in front of the computer. This means I will need to do more in less time. Hopefully because of these changes I will be working smarter, and ultimately, be a jewellist for longer.