Sunday, June 1, 2014


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!


  1. Ice and rest is the best idea. I couldn't help you piping...there isn't a person in this world that would think that was pretty. But I could help you package if you need me too. I follow directions well, and could let you rest, or at least help you get the job done faster!

  2. I have the same thing in my left hand...went to Body in Balance. They diagnosed a torn ligament in the lower thumb joint...I have no idea how it happened, have had it now for 5 years and some mornings I wake up and cannot close my hand.

    Physio and a thumbster brace from Body in Balance have made a world of difference!

    Vicky Zanatta