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The Art of Balance: Exercise and Stretching for Tattoo Artists

November 08, 2023 Mary Hall Scott


The Art of Balance: Exercise and Stretching for Tattoo Artists

Tattoo artists and Permanent Makeup artists are skilled professionals who transform their clients' bodies and faces into living canvases. Their work requires a steady hand, precision, and unwavering focus. Yet, the artistic process can take a toll on the body, especially when it comes to maintaining proper balance, coordination, and posture.

This blog will emphasize the importance of exercise and stretching for all tattoo artists, highlighting the potential side effects of poor posture and offering solutions to keep them in peak condition. It will also offer some solutions and provide some links to get you started on a healthier journey.

The Consequences of Poor Posture

In this photo you see: starting left to right looking at photo

1. Good posture and spinal alignment.

2. You are starting to see forward head projection. This is demonstrated by the cure of the yellow line in the neck area. You are also starting to see rounded shoulder syndrome. This is demonstrated by the abdomin pushing forward the the shoulders starting to push back slight. In this condition the shoulders round (pull forward), the chest muscles tighten and the back muscles are loose.

3. You are now seeing forward head projection and rounded shoulder system in a more severe state. Notice the eggeration of the zig zag. That is the yellow line.

4. You are seeing to straight of a spine in this example. This can be caused from injury or overcorrection.

Tattoo artists often spend hours hunched over their clients, focusing intensely on their work. This repetitive posture can lead to various health issues, including:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Prolonged pressure on the wrists and hands can cause the median nerve to become compressed, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful condition can lead to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Poor posture can cause muscle imbalances, leading to myofascial pain syndrome, characterized by trigger points and persistent muscle pain.

Hand Arm Vibrational Syndrome: The continuous use of tattoo machines can transmit vibrations to the hands and arms, potentially causing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). This syndrome can lead to numbness, tingling, and reduced dexterity.

Headaches: Poor posture can place stress on the neck and upper back, leading to tension headaches. These headaches can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and can significantly affect an artist's ability to focus on their work.

Back, Neck, Chest, Hamstrings, and Quads Issues: Tattoo artists can also experience discomfort in various other body parts due to poor posture. These issues can range from back pain to neck stiffness, chest tightness, and tight hamstrings and quads.

On a interesting side note:

For every inch of forward head posture, it is found to increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.

Exercise as a Solution

Regular exercise is an excellent way for tattoo artists to combat the adverse effects of poor posture. Here are some exercises that can be particularly beneficial:

Core Strengthening: A strong core helps support the spine and maintain proper posture. Include exercises like planks, bridges, and leg raises in your routine.

Upper Body Strength: Building strength in the upper body can alleviate strain on the neck and shoulders. Incorporate exercises like push-ups, rows, and shoulder presses.

Stretching: Stretching is essential to counteract the shortening of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that can result from poor posture. Focus on stretches for the chest, neck, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Yoga: Practicing yoga can improve flexibility, balance, and posture. Many yoga poses can target the specific areas affected by tattooing.

Cardiovascular Exercise: Maintaining overall fitness is vital for better endurance during long tattoo sessions. Engage in activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Swimming is great for a non bearing exercise.

Benefits of Exercise and Stretching

Regular exercise and stretching provide a multitude of benefits for tattoo artists, which can include:

  • Reduced Pain: Exercise and stretching help alleviate muscle tension and promote better circulation. This can lead to a reduction in pain associated with poor posture and muscle imbalances. This is very important especially on those long tattoo days.

  • No Headaches: Improved posture and reduced muscle tension can lead to fewer headaches, allowing tattoo artists to work with greater focus and comfort. Headaches for many artists can turn into migraines. It's important to keep a healthy posture.

  • Enhanced Flexibility: Regular stretching increases flexibility, making it easier to reach different areas of the body during the tattooing process. Even just a wrist warm stretch before you start your day, in the middle of the day and at the end of the day can relieve tension.

  • No Aching Stiff Muscles: Exercise and stretching help prevent the development of aching, stiff muscles, allowing artists to work with ease and comfort. If it doesn't prevent it all together, it can greatly reduce it.

  • Improved Endurance: Increased cardiovascular fitness through regular exercise can improve an artist's endurance during long tattoo sessions. This is because if the heart is heathly and working properly it can easily provide a blood flow to the rest of the body. This bring oxygen to the muscles that are working and need the supply.

  • Ease of Being More Active: Enhanced overall fitness and reduced discomfort from poor posture can encourage tattoo artists to lead a more active lifestyle outside of work. Better posture will leave you less tired at the end of the day so you have more

Exercise Doesn't Have to Be Intense

Tattoo artists may think they need to commit to rigorous workouts to make a difference. However, even short, regular exercise routines can have a significant impact on their well-being.

Carving out just 10 minutes a day for targeted exercises can make a world of difference over time.

Stretching: The Unsung Hero: as mentioned before stretching is important. Here is some more information on stretching specifically for the artist.

Stretching is just as important as exercise for tattoo artists. Regular stretching can help improve flexibility and counteract the shortening of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Here are some essential stretches for tattoo artists:

Chest Opener: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, clasp your hands behind your back, and gently lift your arms to open up your chest. Do this for 10-20 seconds.

Neck Stretch: Tilt your head to one side, gently pulling with your hand for a deep stretch. Repeat on the other side. Do this for 10-20 seconds.

Shoulder Stretch: Hold your arm across your body, just below your shoulder, and gently press on your elbow with the opposite hand. Do this for 10-20 seconds.

Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the other bent. Reach for your extended foot, keeping your back straight. Do this for 10-20 seconds.

Finding Help and Resources

Tattoo artists experiencing posture-related issues should consider seeking help from professionals. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists can provide targeted treatments and exercises tailored to their needs.

Online resources, such as websites, forums, and YouTube channels, can also offer guidance on posture-improving exercises and stretches. Tattoo artists can learn and practice at their own pace from the comfort of their studios.


Maintaining proper balance, coordination, and posture is essential for tattoo artists to deliver their best work while safeguarding their own health. The consequences of poor posture, including conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), and headaches, should not be underestimated. A commitment to regular, even brief, exercise and stretching can help mitigate these issues and ensure tattoo artists can continue to create their masterpieces with passion and precision. Prioritizing self-care and investing in one's physical well-being is a crucial aspect of the tattooing artistry journey.

I was a health club owner for over 10 years, I have held personal trainer certifications along with cancer specialist certified trainer certifications.

Please reach out to me with any questions.

Mary Hall Scott


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