Writing cramp is a misery. It spoils exams and
sometimes hamstrings careers. It can be avoided, but is
seldom given the attention it needs.
Try the gorilla grip for yourself
Make a fist, and keep it hard and tight. In a
minute or two, the tension will spread up your arm.
If you keep it a while longer, it will reach your
shoulder. It may even start affecting muscles in
your back. (Now let go before its too late.)
The usual cause of writing cramp is misplaced
concentration. You tighten your grip to write better.
Sympathetic tension affects other muscles. Soon your hand
What to do?
When this happens to a pupil of yours, begin by soothing the
child. Remind him from time to time to relax his grip. Make
sure the penhold is correctly formed: that the tips of the
thumb and middle finger form a cleft.
Use fast scribble exercises to loosen the muscles:
horizontal and vertical zigzags, spirals to the left and
right. This can take some time, but is time well spent. Let
the child wiggle his hands. Some suggest that the child
stand up for a moment. He should put his palms flat on the
desk, and bend the fingers back by leaning gently forward on
The between-the-fingers penhold has given good results.
Most children who use it can change to the grown-up grip
with the rest of the class. A few may even prefer to keep
If scribbles are not enough, use the
between-the-fingers grip. The pen goes between the
first and second fingers, and the child can start
If other remedies fail, try the tape method. Let
the child form a primary grip, but without a pen.
Then tape the pen to the top of the index finger.
(Masking tape is easier to use than cellophane
Of course, the tape method wont do for long.
But at this stage, the tension and feelings of incompetence
are often more difficult to deal with than the mechanics of
the grip itself. The tape method can help solve the problem.
The tape method should always be a game. It must
never feel like a punishment. Children who suffer this kind
of stress may need medical help.