Hand Cramps from Drawing

When you’re young, you can fall asleep like a pretzel, wake up and carry on with a skip and a jump. Then you hit your thirties, you yawn funny and put your back out.

Well now, I’m 40, and I’ve unpleasantly discovered that I get a hand cramp from drawing or painting too long, particularly when detailing. The cramp is centered on the side of my palm where my pinkie finger is. At its most intense, it’s debilitating to the point that I can’t even touch a mouse to do any computer work, let alone use a stylus to continue my illustration or whatever. It’s also not a cramp that goes away quickly. The first time it happened, I tried to just carry on with my left hand, but found I didn’t have the necessary fine motor skill to do a good job. So the rest of the day was spent binging YouTube videos while keeping my hand straight at all times.

I’ve been trying to find a solution to this, because, quite frankly, I find it ridiculous. So I’m going to tell you what I’ve tried and how it did or didn’t help, and hopefully you can add your comments at the end so…if it’s solvable, we can solve this together:

Holding Soap

One the first things I found in my research was one of the weirdest – loads of people swearing by an old folk remedy of holding a bar of soap. I tried it, and… it didn’t work at all. One of the articles I read seemed to indicate that it might need to be a specific kind of soap, so if there’s any truth to it, perhaps mine was the wrong one. If you’re interested, I’ve posted some links at the bottom of the article for further reading.

Water, Potassium, and Magnesium

I’ve read that dehydration can cause cramps, and also lack of the correct electrolytes, namely potassium and magnesium.

I’m know I’m adequately hydrated, I take a magnesium supplement, and regularly eat grapefruit, which is high in potassium. So, although that’s probably the culprit for some people, I’m ruling this out for myself.

Deep Heat

I’m not one for pharmaceuticals, but in desperation, I rubbed some Deep Heat into my palm. Not going to lie, it helped a bit. Not overwhelmingly so, but it might have helped more if I had tried it in conjunction with the below (hand massage). I don’t know if it’s an International brand, so if you can’t get hold of this stuff, the active ingredients are apparently Menthol / Methyl Salicylate.

Hand Massage

After the first very painful episode had passed, I stumbled across Austin Goh’s YouTube channel. He’s a Malaysian born Chinese martial artist. In the video below he shows a massage technique for getting rid of a hand cramp. I saved the video to try and the second time I got a hand cramp, I gave it a go. This actually did help. It wasn’t a miracle that left my hand feeling perfect, but there definitely was a tangible improvement in pain levels.