Aww... My brother shattered his left arm a few years ago (Leftie), so I remember how much of a pain in the ass it was for him.

Ronald Riehn

A few years ago I started periodically forcing myself to do certain things with my non dominant hand as a sort of training exercise toward ambidexterity. So far I've discovered I suck at the following with my left hand.

Writing, using a mouse, complicated secret society handshake, and precise cutting.

I'm awesome at left-handed (read - equal to right handed)

Shooting (gun and bow), tweezing, operating an automatic transmission vehicle, knife work other than precise cutting, and throwing.

@edit - I'm actually a little -more- accurate at throwing with my left hand, though my maximum range and speed are reduced with most throws.

cracker's picture

I'm fortunate that I'm ambidextrous, but unfortunate that I'm almost this bad at spreading cream cheese with either hand. I'm equally bad at handwriting.

robotcorp's picture

Microwave the cream cheese for 30 seconds to soften it. if you are trying to spread butter only microwave for 20 sconds as it melts faster.

dick.bill's picture

I would just heat the knife up some by running it under hot water.

Mark Penrice

Perfect, if forced opportunity to practice ambidextrosity...
(begin probably unwelcome advicedump)

The one tip I can give about it is to really study how people ACTUALLY do the problem tasks with their dominant hand. I've found that, particularly when it comes to complex things like writing, using utensils, cutting with scissors etc, your hand, finger - and importantly, wrist and rest-of-arm! - movements can be a lot different from what you think they are and therefore try to make your left arm do. Muscle memory has a lot to answer for.

Basically without the practice and observation you end up trying to do them the way an infant would, with either of their hands. Biggest mistake people make when trying to write wrong-handed is that they end up with their fingers and wrist locked solid, and their entire arm moving, as if they were spraypainting a graffiti tag. Actually, it's all in the fingers and wrist, apart from some minor elbow and more minor shoulder flexing to move the hand across the page. I expect buttering bread would be the same, but I admit I never tried that left-handed yet... (will have to, now)

It's not like it magically becomes easy, but after that epiphany and a few minutes of deliberate practice to try and unlearn the worst of the "wrong" method, my leftie handwriting improved by the equivalent of two or three school years, from a barely legible scrawl to a middle schooler's clear (if shaky) block letters and rough attempts at script. Slow, but usable when needed. I daresay with a lot more practice it would gain a little more parity with my right hand, even if it never ended up feeling correct or looking brilliant.

I have faith in you :) Because after all, your left handed comics have come out looking really good, even if someone else had to do the inking. (Oddly this was also the case when Yuko Ota broke her dominant wrist ... is there something in the slightly superdeformed style that makes it easier to do southpaw?)

Also, learn the power of doing as much as possible with other bits of your body ... elbows, flat of the arm, hips, butt, knees, feet, nose, etc, and stuff that can be sneakily done one-handed using multiple fingers (and thumb, and palm) doing them concurrently, like playing piano or drums. With both hands working, I've found it works wonders making coffee (instant granules, and a hot water dispenser) a lot faster in the cramped and busy kitchenette at work, being able to do two (admittedly familiar) tasks at once. Milk bottles/jugs can actually be opened and closed one-handed whilst holding them by the handle quite easily once you get the knack (including left handed) ... might wanna practice with an empty one, or a washed out one refilled with water, though :D

Weirdly, some of this learning came about from some occasions with my NON dominant arm rather beaten up, and from injuring a leg a couple times. It's surprising how many tasks are complicated by ending up one-handed (or having to largely balance on one leg), let alone losing use of your "main" one...

(Oh, and in strange contrast to Ronald, I've found left handed mousing to come quite naturally ... must be all the years I've clocked up on laptops, typing with my right (one handed typing is pretty natural now) and mouse-padding with my left ;) )

Jam's picture

Thanks for the advice! I've been managing alright. I've actually found that it's a bit easier when I *don't* think about it too hard. I just think of the action I want to accomplish and let my left subconsciously manage it. Scissors are still a bit difficult. I could work a can-opener more easily by flipping the direction of rotation! Buttering/spreading is a bit easier now that it doesn't hurt as much to use my RH fingers, but opening jars still sucks.

I've been posting pictures of my left-handwriting developing on twitter, though I haven't in awhile because I thought they were quite boring. There are times now when I think my left handwriting looks exactly like my right! But it's not consistent, it's not as fast and I've found that I can't "scan" a page of handwritten text as easily as I can with RH-writing.

I'll take another photo tonight.

Mark Penrice

Just glad I'm not poking my nose in too badly :D

The latter of those shots looks better than my brother's normal writing, and possibly my own...

Found myself picking up knife and fork in the kitchen the "wrong way round" a couple mornings back (making a bizarro cooked breakfast) and figured I'd roll with it to see just how bad it was. Oddly it turned out doing the "wrong" thing with my DOMINANT hand ended up the worst, as the movements you need with a knife - at least for cutting - are quite similar to those for a pen, and I've already practiced that a little (the spreading motions were a little odd, but not too bad after a couple goes, but then again I didn't have one arm in a cast).

But my right hand muscle memory kept trying to use the fork either like a knife or a spoon, and neither of those actually work for it. It took swapping back to the normal arrangement, starting to eat and then stopping halfway to see how my left hand was holding the fork to properly figure it out. Replicating that unique hold after swapping back again made everything a fair bit easier. Worst thing then was having to think in mirror mode in order to orient the plate and what I was trying to do with the food properly, kept approaching from the wrong angle and ending up with the fork stabbed into the piece I wanted to leave behind rather than eat after cutting the two apart :-)

So many things to keep track of, it's like learning to drive on the opposite side but in a car where all the controls are mirrored, not only in the wrong place...

jonnythebum's picture

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

MadCam's picture

That's how I felt when I broke my finger and sprained just about everything else in my right hand while snowboarding, also love skin deep

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