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  • Hand pain?

    Scott here. I have developed some pain in my hand while carving this weekend. It's in my left hand, the one I hold the piece with.

    I have just gotten back in to doing some carving after not having carved in 2018. So I spent about 4 hours carving a boot and a refrigerator magnet.

    Question: I assume I am gripping the piece too tight? Does that make sense? I carve with my right hand and experience no pain there.

    Or, maybe I need to take more frequent breaks.

    Anyone else experience this?

    Thanks in advance for the help.
    Carving since 2017

  • #2
    Hey, Scott, you might get a soft rubber ball and work your hand with it for a few days to help increase your hand structure up a bit. And yes breaks help, I am 78 and have worked const, ruined my mitts so stop and press your fingers together some to stretch those hand muscles too. Might see a hand therapist if you need but do some exercises it helps.. Cheers.
    Last edited by NoDNA; 07-22-2019, 07:16 PM. Reason: spelling
    Chuck
    Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!

    https://mewe.com/profile/5d6f213642db757a5dfb3223

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    • #3
      You're being stretched in an unusual way = take it easy to get back into it.
      Any way you can lay the carving on a sheet of cupboard foam mesh to carve so you don't have to hold it?
      Brian T

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      • #4
        Sometimes I use a wrist brace and usually hold the piece using a carving glove. Never had a problem with the "holding" hand but the carving one does cause problems once in a while and several breaks help.
        Bill
        Living among knives and fire.

        http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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        • #5
          Imagine how your hand would feel if you held a hammer for 4 hours or a shovel? Yeah it would hurt--a lot. Take a break--at least every 20-30 minutes. You don't have to stop or get up. Just put the wood and the tool down and stretch. Getting up would be good for the rest of your body--stretch them back and neck muscles and your legs too. Get the blood criculating. Move your eyes around. You'd be surprised what you do to your body just whittling. If you need a reminder, get a cheap egg timer or set your phone or watch. What ever you do, stretch!!

          Bob L

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          • #6
            I think it's a matter of hand strength. Your hand is not used to doing what your asking it to do. Do some light hand exercises to strengthen the hand and take frequent breaks breaks while your carving until your hand gets stronger and becomes pain free.
            Keep On Carvin'
            Bob K.

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            • #7

              This is a copy of a post I made a couple of years ago to a member with the same trouble. Hope it helps a bit.
              This is a condition commonly known as golfer's elbow. The pain is on the inside of the elbow, and is caused (usually)from gripping items with the wrist bent towards the little finger while the hand is closed in a fist. That is the natural position to assume when holding a carving in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. This condition gets worse the more you stress the tendons affected, ie it gets worse the longer you carve. It really can hurt, I know cause I get it when I am not careful.

              The best exercise for this condition is as follows: Hand and arm extended straight out with the palm facing the ceiling (best done along the arm of a recliner or couch while you are sitting, or on a table )....then bend the wrist so you are pointing the fingertips down as much as possible(keep the arm straight, you will want to roll it inward as you extend the fingers)...then GENTLY..repeat..GENTLY..put your fingertips on the arm of the furniture or on the table (especially the last three fingers..middle to little,,must be on the furniture, the index finger not so important for this condition....and now you achieve the stretch of the fingers (thus stretching the other end of the tendons at the inside of the elbow) by gently moving your arm forward while keeping your fingertips stationary on the furniture arm. You can feel the stretch in the elbow when you do this, stretch GENTLY for a short time (10 seconds is good to start), then rest an equal amount of time. Repeat the stretching several times as tolerated and the pain will lessen. Of course, it will return after a while of carving, so take frequent breaks and do the stretches often.

              Do the stretches occasionally throughout the day, even when not carving or not hurting (so much) to prevent this from becoming a chronic and extremely painful condition, as it will if you just try to "carve on" in spite of the pain and let it build up to epic proportions.

              Antiinflamatory meds help, weigh the disadvantages of the GI side effects against the pain before you take them regularly, but the exercise cannot harm if done with moderate force in the stretching, and definitely improves the pain.

              Of course, the real solution is to not hold things in your hand tightly with your wrist cocked...but that means a change in carving, such as a holder for the piece, or (not acceptable to me) not carving for a while. It helps to hold the piece loosly (you really don't need a death-grip on that wood do you?) and trying not to cock the wrist to the side while holding the block for carving.

              I worked in surgery for 25 years as a PA, this is a common problem for assistants from holding retractors during surgery, so I have been fighting this for ever..trust me, the exercise helps.

              Hope you get some relief.

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              • #8
                The older we get, the more we pay for our past sins, even if they are good sins. I've really had to reduce the amount of time that I carve because my hands and wrists start to ache. Like woodburner I often wear a wrist brace when carving. If I've really agitated my hand I'll wear the brace to bed at night to immobilize the hand and wrist so they can rest. I have a prescription med that I use similar to Aspercreme that helps some. Because of the blood thinners I take I can't take any OTC NASIDS so Tylenol is about the only pain killer I can use. Heat often makes it feel better.

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                • #9
                  take breaks, often.....run under hot and cold waters help with a slight massage. Remember hands have muscles, they are going to hurt when you do something new. If the pain is bad you may be getting some arthritis, which means you need to exercise, exercise those hands, and fingers. But whatever you do ....do not stop the movement of those hands.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks to all for the advice. Very helpful!
                    I wonder too if I am gripping to tightly because my knife is not sharp enough. Like I am trying to help it cut.
                    Anyway, I will try the suggestions you all have made. Thanks so much!
                    I just want to keep carving
                    Carving since 2017

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Unclescott View Post
                      Thanks to all for the advice. Very helpful!
                      I wonder too if I am gripping to tightly because my knife is not sharp enough. Like I am trying to help it cut.
                      Anyway, I will try the suggestions you all have made. Thanks so much!
                      I just want to keep carving
                      Scott....If this is the case your're setting yourself up for a dangerous accident. It's not the sharp knife you have to worry about when carving. It's the dull one. Suggest that the first thing you do is sharpen your blade.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Eddy-Smiles View Post

                        Scott....If this is the case your're setting yourself up for a dangerous accident. It's not the sharp knife you have to worry about when carving. It's the dull one. Suggest that the first thing you do is sharpen your blade.
                        Thanks, I did that last night and tried not to put a death grip on the piece. I also took advantage of my work table and set it down to carve as much as possible. So everything went well last night. Thanks again
                        Carving since 2017

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                        • #13
                          Boy . . . can I relate to this. I'm brand new to this whittling biz, though not to working with wood (have built musical instruments for many years). I've been having so much fun making chips that I overdid it . . . and at the moment am wearing a carpal-tunnel brace on each hand.

                          I recall doing this once before, long ago, when I did a marathon shaping session on a few guitar necks . . . and developed what should be called "rasp wrist."

                          It's getting better (been taking it easy for a couple days) and I just ordered parts to slap together the "poor man's vise." Also sharpened my pocket knife (a Boker Congress) and picked up some basswood (started out on some poplar and a willow branch)

                          I had no idea that I'd have so much fun with this . . . the hours just fly by . . . which is good for my psyche but maybe not for my hands.
                          Website: http://www.ronmarr.com

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                          • #14
                            "All of the above."

                            After many years (75+?) of woodcarving, I have experienced the pain of overdoing it, death grip, failing to keep my tools sharp. I've taken painkillers, heating pads, exercises, etc. I've even stopped carving (and taken up singing) for periods of weeks, or months. After all, it's only a hobby for me
                            .
                            It doesn't work! I really have to carve - to express my creativity or whatever. So I'll pace myself, and keep going.

                            Phil

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                            • #15
                              For the most part you use muscle and tendons in you hands, arms and shoulders in ways that you do not use in most everyday activities. And having not carved in a year your bound to hurt after a 4 hour carvathon. Even after a week or two of not carving it takes me a few days to do a hour or so with out some pain. I really enjoy carving and can lose track of time and carve to long resulting in some painful nights. Old bone in part. I had to get a egg timer . I set it for 20 minutes so I will get up move around and shake out the hands. Doing that I can do 3 or four hours in the shop with little discomfort.

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