Years ago I ran as part of my fitness routine, a routine that also included skipping, weight training and aerobics classes. I wasn't fast or graceful, but I could run a 10k without much effort. One day I sprained my ankle, a few months later I wretched my knee and after a particularly fast and long run with my husband, I developed a severe case of plantar fasciitis. I stopped running and developed stiffness in my joints, especially in the morning. Today I avoid any kind of exercise that is jarring to my body, preferring swimming and spinning and the occasional yoga class. I feel pretty good generally, but get asked frequently to run and always turn those requests down, citing my desire to stay injury free. I consider my ability to move comfortably important, and will do what it takes.
It is therefore ironic that I have been neglecting myself in other ways. My business pretty much relies on my ability to pipe with my right hand. I am not in any way ambidextrous; it is my right hand or nothing. When I first started making decorated cookies for the 2011 farmers' market season, I ended up with a pretty bad case of tennis elbow. I would finish a late night of decorating and barely be able to straighten my arm. I would go to bed and all would be pretty okay by morning. Eventually I learned to ice my arm and wear a brace. When my cookie orders slowed down at the end of the summer, I got the rest I needed to heal.
Over the years I have done many marathon sessions and don't have too much trouble with my arm. I do know that an over-filled piping bag will give me a hand cramp, but I try not to overfill, so that is rarely a problem. Until Thursday. I pre-filled 5 bags of icing (I usually fill as I go) and over-filled all 5. As I was using the first one, I considered fixing them, but I ignored my rational thought and went on. It was a long day of work and I think after those first five large bags, the damage was done. By the end of the night, I was having trouble touching my thumb to my index finger. There was visible swelling in the fleshy part between my thumb and index finger. My thumb muscles were aching. I still had more work to do the next day so I knew rest was really not in the cards for me. The next day most activities were a challenge - including packaging about 250 cookies (which requires a lot of thumb/index finger action), even cutting my dinner was painful to my thumb muscles.
I guess it is time I smarten up. I need to pace myself a little better to avoid days of 150 cookies at a time. I need to rest and ice. I need to listen to that voice that says "the piping bag is too full!" In the meantime, I am enjoying a second day off with a bag of frozen peas in my future, but only until my 400 cookie week starts tomorrow. Take care of yourself and share your healing tips if you have any!