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(Funny this come up 'cause my wrists are hurting now thanks too cutting wood for first time)

 

Good body mechanics. Often easier said than done. Good posture, neutral body alignment as often as possible. Probably very difficult to those not intiated in medical field.

 

Find the perfect stool height. I recently started teaching and found even with the adjustable stools whe have most are not at optimum stool,height

 

Vary tasks. Throw for 45 min, slab for 20 wedge for 10, glaze for 20. Repeat cycle .....trying to avoid repetitive stress

 

Fish oil. While currently controversial. Keeps the inflammation ans pain away.....

 

Massage, chiropractic, exercise.

 

Rolling, self massage, myofascial self release. I have a roller. But use 2 lacrosse balls, and Thera cane the most.

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I am an avid runner, therefore my body is tuned to use my core and my legs for support.

 

Proper wheel height and throwing stool height. For me, my wheel head is as high as my belly button. This has just about eliminated lower back pain. And I propped up my wheel a few inches, which keeps my legs a bit straighter, if I don't do that my knees will hurt.

 

I throw clay that is very soft. If I don't, my neck, shoulders and wrists get sore.

 

I do all my handbuilding standing up. I have bad feet, bunions and such. Good shoes that support my feet while not bothering my bunions are essential. For me the best studio shoes are Crocs. I like that they are cheap, last for years, and can be hosed off when dirty.

 

Everything heavy in the studio is on wheels.

 

I still experience aches and pains on occasion, especially in my wrists and shoulders. When possible, I will give myself some days off to rest.

 

Thinking long-term, I'm 43 now and I am planning to retire from full-studio pottery by age 60. I'd like to spend those years with a healthy body and more free time. So I'm working on a financial plan that will allow me to do that.

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After a lifetime self-employed in the building industry: I laugh at clay, it's a breeze.

 

I'm not super-fit or tough (or anything else), but honestly clay-work is a doddle compared to carpentry.

 

 

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I'm trying harder to try and avoid the aches and pains in the first place but still catch myself doing something dumb because I'm in a rush and figure I can get away with it. Soft clay, machinery to help (mixer / pugger) and a strong husband who is kind enough to haul clay and pack the trailer with stock for me. I exercise 6 days a week, which seems to help. When I do get injured I leave the heavy / hard work for a few days and do small handbuilding work or a run of glaze tests. 

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Stay away from hard clay, learned that the hard way... pushing down on a cone of hard clay had my palm sore for a couple days.. I watch what is even slightly painful or awkward and try to fix either my posture or technique to cure it right away .. Im in pretty good shape and have always been fairly strong but I try to use my head more than my muscles when ever possible, brute strength isn't always the answer with clay.. Leverage from your body core has benefitted me the most so far, I think that is part of throwing on the wheel  that I am glad I am learnig in the beginning ... I have been practicing centering and pushing the cone down with my forearm at around 12 lbs. of clay just to get used to it for bigger pots.. Palm lifts are good for moving big amounts of clay on larger pots , been practicing that as well.. you should see my re-work area rite now lol..

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exercise, exercise, exercise. crunches and sit ups. before the modern potter, they had to dig their own clays, knead, lift heavy saggars into kiln, basically were in shape compared to us today. i also recommend archery to "open" your body, lungs, and shoulder blades. since we seem to be crunched up and bent over ofter

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I think most of the folks that include exercise in their routine have it on the nose. I work out with a total gym type machine, walk either outside or on a treadmill, do planks, side plank dips, and push ups nearly every other day or so. At the same time, I try to get in some pull ups and chin ups, constantly building core and upper body strength.

 

As we all know, we are fighting a two part battle when it comes to total body strength, our hobby/profession puts a lot of strain on specific parts of the body: back, wrists, and shoulders and arms. At the same time, once we reach a certain plateau of health and strength, old age tries to take over removing hormones that help to maintain these muscles and build new ones. At this point if we have a sedentary lifestyle that we have gotten used to then the digression in our total body strength is going to be much greater than those that are actively engaged in some form of body strength building exercise. I prefer to do most of my exercise with kayaking and bicycling, but this Summer was not a good on for the kayak and I did not have as much time for the bike. However, I did keep up with the other exercise mentioned above.

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My best therapy is a large exercise ball that I sit on and then roll backward to open up the front of my body after working with it closed all day.  it supports my back while I lay arched backwards until both head and legs are lower that my belt.  Be careful getting up, and you might want a couch or door frame for support until you get the hang of it.  When I stand up, I feel 6" taller.

I also see a chiropractor when needed, and get regular massage from a person good with body mechanics.

For aches in hands and arms, I use DMSO as needed.  Magic juice. 

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Proper movement with weight and good shoes. I work on a wood floor and load kilns on crushed rock surfaces for my feet.

I now do wear crocs but they do not have great support. I may wear them with insoles soon.

I am working with softer clay now than earlier in life.

I had back issues in my 20's thru 40's but now I'm much better. As I have aged arthritis is setting in in fingers and wrists and back.I started with clay at 18 and now 40 years plus later I'm in good shape considering all that clay-yes I have had a few bones removed and do not move as frely as I used to. The key is keep moving.I'm slowly cutting back in clay but my other intresta are also very heavy.

One thing Gep as far as retirement in my 60's is I could walk away from clay today money wise but I like it still and its what I do-It not about money as much anymore its who I am. This is a hard concept to wrap around when younger.I never considered it in my earlier life-now after 40 years I am a potter and always will be just a bit less time wise.

I force myself a 6 week clay/studio break starting x-mas day-seems every year this gets about one week longer.

My suggestion is keep your entire trunk strong-this will help with any back issues. Good shoes are really important especially later in life. Get good suporting shoes and wear them.Now every glaze day and kiln load (all on same day) is hard on feet. When I throw I get up often to move wear boards.

I always lift with my legs. Moving clay keeps you in shape.When my 10 tons comes in in a week or two moving it over a week spreads out the load.

Mark

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