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Stiff hands


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Hello All

I started to teach my self to throw May 2020  I started throwing  x6 12oz cylinders a day for 6months then moved onto 1 lb of clay cylinders, keeping 1 each day as a record and reusing the other clay. My hands are strong but have become constantly stiff, hence I began to just throw 2 a day and now have given it a 3week break. There is still stiffness wondering is there are any stretches you would recommend, I think it comes from preparing the clay more than throwing. Any tips Thanks Foster -- by the way I am 59yrs

 

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hello, welcome to the forum!

i am now 80 and my hands seem to be fine except for one finger.   i am very fortunate not to have arthritis.   my middle finger on the right hand curves slightly.   i was told to do an exercise that was basically to lean against a wall with that finger extended and put some weight on it a little at a time.  

however, in your case, have you seen a doctor who might specialize in either arthritis or hands?

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Sixty three heah - overall, working with clay has been good for my hands, however, I'm careful to build up to more activity in general, not just in the studio. I try to keep in mind the duration and intensity of just about everything, e.g. walking, biking, swimming, weed pulling, brush trimming, vacuuming, sweeping, paint brushing ...yah, all that, in terms of the day and week, then relate back to how I feel the next day, day after, etc. From there, if no pains, I'll try a bit more, but not a lot more.

I do have to work with some minor nerve damage, an arthritic joint, and two damaged joints, however, it's just an adjustment and awareness thing - not holding me back, and, big picture, I'm very lucky.

Softer clay requires one to work a bit faster, however, less force is required, and ...it's faster.

The topic set me to thinkin'! Just 'cause I try to keep track, doesn't mean I know, for instance, why my shoulder and elbow be actin' up lately - is it over distance in the pool? Methinks perhaps associated with recent slips -> falls, however, I don't know.

Edited by Hulk
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I have been going through hand problems for several month.  I suggest that you find out from your Dr just what the problem is.  Mine has been partly relieved with exercise, contrast  and ball release of the flexor muscles of the forearm.  However now I am developing trigger finger so the trials go on.  Exercise:  put your hands together in the prayer position.  With the hands held close to the chest and heels of the hands kept together move your hands down as far as you can and keep the position for 15 seconds.  The other one is hard to describe:  stretch arms out at your side with palms facing the floor.  Brig your wrists back as far as possible.  You will look like a little girl showing off her new dress!Lin

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Also, place hands on wall about shoulder height. Make sure all the surface of fingers ,palm and heel of handz are inncontact with the wall, even pressure on all knuckles . Hands as spread and flat as poss. And arms are right angle to the hands

Step back and let your body weight rest onto the hands ie right angled at hips straight arms and back, same with legs, stay there , pushing strongly through your whole flat hands, hold there fir 5 minutes, or build up to this. Repeat. Can do this a few times between wedging, throwing, trying to reverse the claw hands of years of  gripping actions.

Prayer position as above poster and lift heels of hands away from each other.

 

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Warm water throwing is great for old fingers like mine. I suggest having any hand/finger issue looked at early.

I got a new cast today after thumb surgery two weeks ago. After 45 years of clay you can really get a few issues unless you know what to look for. Since you are in UK go see a good hand PT person for a workup and exercise schedule for hand

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I agree with checking with doctor first.  Also, hand therapists, who are either occupational or physical therapists understand the mechanics and needs of joints and can help set up a program to follow which will help decrease pain.

I am a retired occupational therapist and biomechanist, but did not work with hands, so am speaking only as a layperson, here. I also have arthritis in my hands and when I started throwing about three years ago, I would put my hands under warm running water, or immerse them in a bowl of warm water, BEFORE I did anything in the studio. While the hands are  still in warm water, make a fist and release a few times. If you do this before you start working, it gives your joints a chance to move and "limber up".  I use mostly softer clay now. It was a bit tricky to get used to, but much easier on joints.  Gentle exercise is happening when you are working with clay, which is perfect and the exercise actually helps the joints maintain their integrity.  

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thank you - Interesting I did the prayer stretch someone mentioned and  I  threw x2 cylinders yesterday and x3 today and my hands feel much better - I have started using warm water and also like the struggle with soft clay and having to work faster stops one being too fussy.

I seem to do the fist exersise with out thinking about it already so thats good news too than you

 

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It's definitely easier to finesse too soft clay than try to work (throw) with slightly too hard clay.  Harder clay will let you more easily be aggressive with expanding, etc, but not really worth the pain.  There are several good techniques for making commercial clay softer that are worthwhile.

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I have found that wedging the clay helps my hands, so do some every time before throwing sessions. I have cysts on a few of the hand knuckles, and several bent fingers. Thankfully all but the rt thumb still have most of their movement. Most of the bent fingers seem to be tendon tightening that is from years of tucking the end of the lt hand fingers for pulls on the inside of the form. In the end, consider myself to be quite lucky to be able to throw reasonable well.

 

best,

Pres

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Agree that keeping the movements and range of mocement of the joints and the strength coupled with the releasing stretches best way to go...for whole body actually.

I interperse throwing with handbuilding these days, or a shed tidy...

 

Edited by Babs
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