Most people don't realize how physically demanding the job of a tattoo artist is. To achieve that perfect tattoo, sometimes the artist has to spend long lengths of time sitting or leaning a certain way, which can lead to soreness or muscle tension. Here are our 3 tips to prevent, or assist with these common cramps.
1. Take a minute to stretch
Artists use their backs, hands, wrists, and lower and upper arm area. So, they can greatly benefit from stretches and exercises to alleviate any tension or dullness of these crucial muscles. One quick and easy stretch is a wrist curl - for this, rest your forearm on the arm of a sturdy chair with your hand over the edge. Hold your palm facing upward and slowly bend your wrist up and down a few times. The classic 'crossbody shoulder stretch' is another good choice for tattoo artists - start by standing tall/straight. Grab one arm above your elbow with your opposite hand, and pull it across your body toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Make sure to keep your elbow below shoulder height. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. These quick stretches can make a big difference!
2. Warm Water
Warm showers can relax muscles and nerves, making it a great way to start the day. Another perk of warm water is it can help with soreness. For newer artists, your muscles are adapting to your new work routine and might be sore from it a lot at first, especially after a large tattoo. Artists have recommended soaking the sore area in warm water with Epsom Salt.
3. Check Your Machine & Grips
Also, make sure the machine you select is suited for your hand size and the weight is an appropriate, comfortable amount. Keep in mind the piece you're doing and maybe switch to a different machine if you know it will be a lengthier tattoo session. The Kwadron Equaliser Mikron Turbo is a great, lightweight option - with a compact design that can be used for lining, shading and color packing. This machine includes an adjustable cartridge grip that is compatible with all major cartridge brands; sometimes switching grip sizes can also help.
If all else fails, combine Ibuprofen and rest!
Your wellness is important to your client, your shop, and of course - your long term health! Do you have any tips when it comes to tattoo wellness? Comment below!
Wanna see a video about doing wrist curls? Meet Doctor Jo!
She also has this video on relieving shoulder stiffness.
Photo by: Lucas Lenzi
Cover photo by: Antonino Visalli