Kanji Causing Hand Pains

Index » RtK Volume 1

 
Reply #1 - 2009 June 08, 10:54 am
aaronvanvalen Member
From: the Netherlands Registered: 2009-02-11 Posts: 67

Does any body else have this problem?

I have been working my way through RTK since mid February and am at 1745 now (wanna finish before end of the week) with some breaks in between, but I write down every single review in both anki and here on Reviewing the Kanji. I already had some unexplainable carpel tunnel-styled condition in both my hands but have the feeling intensive kanji writing has increased this.

Anybody else numb hands from Mr. Kanji?

Reply #2 - 2009 June 08, 11:15 am
Shirow66 Member
From: Sweden Registered: 2008-01-27 Posts: 50

I think it mostly depends on your pen. When I used regular cheap ball point pens I had some problems, I'm now using either brush pens or a really fine tip office style ball point which both work well.

Reply #3 - 2009 June 08, 12:04 pm
Sebastian Member
Registered: 2008-09-09 Posts: 579
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Reply #4 - 2009 June 08, 1:03 pm
Pangolin Member
From: UK Registered: 2006-07-23 Posts: 137

You say you have a pre-existing condition so it doesn't seem unlikely that a lot of handwriting will aggravate it. I suppose it's possible that writing kanji is more stressful than writing in your own language; the method of drawing characters may be quite different and requires extra effort. However, if you do not normally do much handwriting, you might have had the same effect after intensive writing in your own language, so it may not be kanji per se.

I write out all reviews and have written something in the region of 30,000 characters in the last 7 months and have had no aches or pains whatever. I'm not sure this has any bearing on your problem, as it seems to me that some are more susceptible to RSI type injuries than others. It's interesting that the methods in Shirow66's link come from a percussionist. I played (rock) drums for many years when I was younger and all it did was to give me very strong arms.

Reply #5 - 2009 June 08, 1:03 pm
ファブリス Administrator
From: Belgium Registered: 2006-06-14 Posts: 4015 Website

And don't write by resting your wrist on the table (if you have pain), use some kind of soft support to elevate the wrist, to reduce the tension at the wrist angle and let blood flow freely (may or may not be your problem, it's worth trying out).

Reply #6 - 2009 June 08, 2:20 pm
kazelee Rater Mode
From: ohlrite Registered: 2008-06-18 Posts: 2132 Website

ファブリス wrote:

And don't write by resting your wrist on the table (if you have pain), use some kind of soft support to elevate the wrist, to reduce the tension at the wrist angle and let blood flow freely (may or may not be your problem, it's worth trying out).

Gotta agree here. There could be a number of causes, but the fact of the matter is that if you keep doing things the same way your problem will only get worse.

Sounds like a weird question but, how are you holding the pen or pencil you use?

Reply #7 - 2009 June 08, 2:28 pm
vosmiura Member
From: SF Bay Area Registered: 2006-08-24 Posts: 1085

aaronvanvalen wrote:

Does any body else have this problem?

I have been working my way through RTK since mid February and am at 1745 now (wanna finish before end of the week) with some breaks in between, but I write down every single review in both anki and here on Reviewing the Kanji. I already had some unexplainable carpel tunnel-styled condition in both my hands but have the feeling intensive kanji writing has increased this.

Anybody else numb hands from Mr. Kanji?

If you're feeling pain it may be better to stop writing so much.  Use your finger on your palm for reviews for a while until it gets better.  It's no good to cause yourself harm.

Slightly on the side here, but why are you reviewing with both Anki and Reviewing the Kanji?  Reviewing the same things with more than one spaced repetition system kind of defeats the point of the spaced repetition system.

Last edited by vosmiura (2009 June 08, 2:30 pm)

Reply #8 - 2009 June 08, 3:29 pm
Aijin Member
From: California Registered: 2009-05-29 Posts: 648

A dry-erase board might be a great idea! I used to get lots of tension in my hands and forearm because I use too much force when writing by pencil, so a few years ago I started studying for exams by using a dry-erase board and a marker. It works great, and I no longer get any stress from writing.

As the other poster said, make sure you stop if it hurts! One of my childhood friends was an amazing cellist growing up, but the long practice hours ended up really damaging her arms somehow. Her parents pushed her to keep playing, and since she didn't heed the warning of the pain she has permanent damage to her arms now. Completely crushed her dreams of becoming a professional musician, as a few minutes of playing cello now causes her arms to go completely numb.

Don't let things get worse!

Reply #9 - 2009 June 08, 3:52 pm
aaronvanvalen Member
From: the Netherlands Registered: 2009-02-11 Posts: 67

First off, thanks for the concerns ppls. I will try out a whiteboard thing, though I really enjoy writing kanji normal-sized (in 1x1cm squares). I use a mechanical pencil btw.

vosmiura wrote:

Slightly on the side here, but why are you reviewing with both Anki and Reviewing the Kanji?  Reviewing the same things with more than one spaced repetition system kind of defeats the point of the spaced repetition system.

Well I find that the more reviews I do, the better they stick. Since they follow different patters (I think) it doesn't interfere with the other. Especially cos I let the Rev. the Kanji build up a few days before doing them. Does anybody else think it is superfluous doing both? I haven't done too much research into the whole theories behind srs-ing to be honest so maybe I'm wrong.

jmkeralis wrote:

STOP.  You may not have carpal tunnel syndrome exactly, but I'd put my money on some kind of tendon strain/inflammation.  Whatever it is you're doing, STOP - if you keep doing something that's hurting you, it'll only get worse, and you could do irreperable damage to yourself (I know it sounds like I'm overreacting, but I got my master's in environmental/occupational health).

Find some other way to review - I like to use a little dry-erase board, since it uses less paper and puts less strain on your fingers and wrists.  Also, you can use your finger to draw the kanji on the palm of your hand.  The Japanese actually do this, and I do it on occasion - you still form a clear mental image, so it works for practicing.

I have been seeing doctors about this condition for about a year and a half now did all sorts of testing and tried all sort of methods: CTS is basically excluded by electro thingmajix pulses testing - all was good; physiotherapists (plural, 3 in total) all were at a loss after they tried their exercises out on me; braces don't really help. It is an utter shit situation. My working conditions are pretty much optimal.

I have pain with pretty much everything I do: brushing my teeth, holding a book, typing, using the mouse, taking photos, etc etc.  But because I can't / don't wanna stop reviewing and studying kanji I wanted to check if it was sort of normal that kanji induces hand pains, guess not really. Will have to minimalize effort.

Last edited by aaronvanvalen (2009 June 08, 3:53 pm)

Reply #10 - 2009 June 08, 4:20 pm
welldone101 Member
Registered: 2008-12-21 Posts: 289

Swimming was great for my wrist pain.  Just tossing that out there in case you are bored.  I didn't have any condition such as you do, just wrist pain from snowboarding (badly).  Swimming strengthened my forearm muscles to the extreme and now the wrists feel great.

Also I think jmkeralis just (unexpectedly) told you  to stop brushing your teeth. big_smile  hehe

Reply #11 - 2009 June 08, 5:11 pm
vosmiura Member
From: SF Bay Area Registered: 2006-08-24 Posts: 1085

aaronvanvalen wrote:

Well I find that the more reviews I do, the better they stick. Since they follow different patters (I think) it doesn't interfere with the other. Especially cos I let the Rev. the Kanji build up a few days before doing them. Does anybody else think it is superfluous doing both? I haven't done too much research into the whole theories behind srs-ing to be honest so maybe I'm wrong.

Well, it's possible it may hinder long term retention, but I'm not sure.  Rather, I think of it in terms of return on time spent reviewing.  Less time reviewing means you can review more things - so you can handle learning more new items.

To put it another way, 90% retention of 2000 items is better than 95% retention of 1000 items.

Reply #12 - 2009 June 08, 5:13 pm
Jarvik7 Member
From: 名古屋 Registered: 2007-03-05 Posts: 3946

Switching to softer leaded pencils (I use 2B) or non-ballpoint pens (gel pen or fountain pen) lets you put a lot less stress on your hand and wrist.

Reply #13 - 2009 June 08, 11:06 pm
Machine_Gun_Cat Member
From: auckland Registered: 2009-01-22 Posts: 184

I have these pains as well all though I Know that I have RSI from playing guitar 2 hours a day (intense shredding , I can now only do 40 minutes a day ) and painting huge ammounts, I'm going to try myotherapy to get rid of this problem as is recomended by this guy http://www.rsicure.sabhlokcity.com/

Reply #14 - 2009 June 09, 5:39 am
Surreal Member
From: Sweden Registered: 2009-05-18 Posts: 325

I don't have this problem with kanji because I don't write them out except for the new primitives/pictographs but I've been wondering about carpal tunnel, etc. for a while. I'm a guitar player too and while I've felt a small pain sometimes I haven't been damaged, I always stop if it feels 'wrong'. Anyway, how do you know when it's the bad kind of pain? I mean, how do you tell it apart from the normal exhausted feeling? Like I said, I mostly stop at possible first signs - but at the same time I want to develop my hands so sometimes it feels like a waste. Moreover, I've seen too many musicians losing out to this so it'd be nice to have more advice than just 'stop if it hurts you' for fellow instrumentalists. (t Aijin: goddamn those were some bad freaking parents. like WHAT WERE THEY THINKING. hope they realize what they did)

Second, how come this happens with kanji for some people - are they all very active reviewers writing too much or will they have the same issue when writing as usual? Really I guess I'm asking whether it's somehow more taxing than writing with roman letters.

Lastly: aaron, it's a bit late in the game but you'll probably have to review for a long time so you could try developing writing out the kanji in your head, mentally going through all the strokes to form the full picture. It's hard at first but if you keep at it in a few days you can make fairly clear mental kanji images. It might even work better for you in the end.

Reply #15 - 2012 March 04, 11:45 am
tashippy Member
From: New York Registered: 2011-06-18 Posts: 542

i started getting pains in my my writing hand around 1700 characters in (i'm at 1800 now in the 6th edition), so I'm not gonna let a little cramping stop me. I think it came from writing with my fingers rather than shoulder/forearm. the pain first surfaced when I was playing drums in my band. I think all the extra writing so much for RTK made my hand tense, because I never had this pain from drumming in the 19 years I've been playing, and I drum with both hands. The aformentioned link on RSI was interesting. I have really tense muscles no matter how much I stretch, as I'm kind of a wirey, thin and active guy. I already scheduled a deep tissue massage, so hopefully this will help.
I found these websites today that have been helping me tremendously already:
http://paperpenalia.com/handwriting.html
http://chestofbooks.com/business/refere … iting.html
those are for pen writing. The key seems to be to write from your shoulder, relax and keep good posture. I bought a fountain pen to alleviate finger pressure, but you can use a gel pen for less money. I had the $5 'preppy' fountain pen but the cheap plastic cap broke, so i got a Kaweco fountain pen from jetpens.com (kinokuniya was too expensive for me as a newbie to fountain pens).
I am using a brush pen to write kanji, but usually only write one kanji per review or trace it in my mind or with my finger, and I write it once or thrice when I am making a new story, so really, I think the pain for me was coming from writing the stories. Then again, it could be the complexity and lack of familiarity with the kanji that is doing it. If anyone finds good links on proper posture and writing grips, etc. especially for brush-pens or articles specific to kanji, do tell.
I also switched the mouse on my work computer to my weaker hand. It's slow goin', but not as slow as, say, learning to write kanji with your weaker hand, which was my goal when I set out to learn Japanese, but it didn't really pan out.

Last edited by tashippy (2012 March 04, 11:53 am)

Reply #16 - 2012 March 04, 12:15 pm
mrbryce Member
From: paris Registered: 2012-02-01 Posts: 27

just practice writing with the other hand it will fire up your brain and thats always a good thing smile

Reply #17 - 2012 March 04, 2:10 pm
Kuma01 Member
From: The Netherlands Registered: 2011-02-07 Posts: 120

I remember having a little bit of cramp when I just started out, but it went away pretty fast and it never really obstructed my writing. But yeah if you had a pre-existing condition then exasperating it by writing a lot every day is probably not a great idea. You could try some exercises, also if it persists you should probably visit a doctor if you haven't done so before.

Reply #18 - 2012 March 04, 4:22 pm
mizunooto Member
From: London Registered: 2010-06-25 Posts: 137

Writing is a simple thing but as you're doing a lot of it it could be good to learn to do it more easily. And you could use the information in other physical tasks you are doing.

Obviously pain is a sign to stop, and sign that you're doing something wrong.

Obviously people have to rest sometimes, that's just a fact.

A very useful thing is to think about what muscles you are actually using in writing, and feel if you are using some extra ones too, or if you are keeping the muscle contracted after you have finished with it.

Just use the muscles you need, when you need them.

Also if you are doing a repetitive task, try to move the angle of your hand around a little bit so that you can vary which bits of muscle you are contracting. It should mean you get less fatigue.

(I learned all this from piano)

Last edited by mizunooto (2012 March 04, 4:24 pm)

Reply #19 - 2012 March 04, 5:55 pm
erlog Member
From: Japan Registered: 2007-01-25 Posts: 625

For what it's worth I think writing kanji is actually better for RSI than other things. I can't write long-hand in English for more than about a page without having my hand start locking up, but I can write kanji for hours on end. The more complicated kanji shapes I think mix it up enough to avoid repetitive stress symptoms for me.

Reply #20 - 2012 March 04, 11:09 pm
Nagareboshi Member
From: Austria Registered: 2010-10-11 Posts: 569 Website

aaronvanvalen wrote:

I have pain with pretty much everything I do: brushing my teeth, holding a book, typing, using the mouse, taking photos, etc etc.  But because I can't / don't wanna stop reviewing and studying kanji I wanted to check if it was sort of normal that kanji induces hand pains, guess not really. Will have to minimalize effort.

You say you have pain with everything you do. This is what I noticed as well before I got the diagnosis from a very good doctor that I have Rheumatoid arthritis. This was causing me pains to no end while writing out characters, learning them, and writing them out during reviews. But I kept doing it anyway, the condition didn't get worse, and it was worth it.

I know that it is not very likely that you have rheumatoid arthritis, but you could at least ask your doctor, and let him make some tests. In case you have it, but it is in an early stage, he might find nothing. So you have to come back after some months and ask for a re-check just make sure that you don't have it.

Reply #21 - 2012 March 04, 11:21 pm
Zgarbas Watchman
From: 名古屋 Registered: 2011-10-09 Posts: 1198 Website

I get slight pains but that's because I am so unused to handwriting these days. I remember getting them when I learned how to write in kindergarden, too. So it might be a normal thing?

They're very slight but if I use a ballpoint then they're noticeable. So yeah, switch to a pencil. The kanji'll look much better too big_smile.

edit: Just noticed the pain with everything you do. Go see a doctor smile.

Last edited by Zgarbas (2012 March 04, 11:22 pm)

Reply #22 - 2012 March 05, 7:01 pm
AteEightAte New member
From: United States Registered: 2012-03-05 Posts: 1

For me, there are times that I have the pain and times I do not. I don't really know how often one happens over the other, but I know that when it does happen I usually change utensils. Also, part of it is due to how I hold the utensil and placement. I know this due to the fact that I had to change the way I wrote due to parental complaints. Lol.

I may have also had this during elementary, etc.

To agree with everyone else, if this is a chronic issue- go see a doctor.

Reply #23 - 2012 March 05, 9:07 pm
SomeCallMeChris Member
From: Massachusetts USA Registered: 2011-08-01 Posts: 782

I significantly reduced RSI pain by making a concentrated effort not to use the mouse wheel (worst ergonomics ever.... ) as well as switching to dvorak keyboard layout (regardless of theories of minimizing stress based on using strong fingers to hit frequent letters, etc - it changes the -pattern- of hand movements as you type.)

Stretching for 5 minutes out of every hour is not unreasonable (make sure to stretch back, neck, and shoulders as well as arms, wrists, and fingers.... it's amazing how the tension has a domino effect). Yes, if you're typing/writing/playing music all day, that may mean that in 16 hours you stretch 16 times, and are spending 80 minutes stretching (though that would be an extreme day). Ignore the funny looks and stretch as you walk to the bathroom or coffeepot. Your health is worth the time and the funny looks.
Your employer or doctor may be able to provide you stretching guidelines - I have a sheet describing stretches that can be done seated at my desk that I got from an employer back when I had a desk job.

I take glucosamine(+chondritin+msm) tablets regularly, which is more about joints than muscles; it seems to help though, and in any case reduces the 'crackle' in my joints that is a warning about other kinds of long-term injury.

And yeah, talk to your doctor.

Last edited by SomeCallMeChris (2012 March 05, 9:08 pm)

Reply #24 - 2012 March 08, 9:33 pm
tashippy Member
From: New York Registered: 2011-06-18 Posts: 542

wooooooooooooord. that's what i'm doing. with chalk!!!!!! 楽しいいいいいいいい

Kuma01 wrote:

I remember having a little bit of cramp when I just started out, but it went away pretty fast and it never really obstructed my writing. But yeah if you had a pre-existing condition then exasperating it by writing a lot every day is probably not a great idea. You could try some exercises, also if it persists you should probably visit a doctor if you haven't done so before.

Reply #25 - 2012 March 08, 9:36 pm
tashippy Member
From: New York Registered: 2011-06-18 Posts: 542

thanks also to somecallmechris. yeah i take the supplements already for drumming. but yeah i'm getting into the stretching more consistently. thanks