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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Potters

By June 11, 2010

You may have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) at one time or another. To put it in layman's terms, this is a condition in which one of the nerves running through the wrist to the hand becomes compressed, leaving the hand in pain or with weakness.

Did you know that potters can be one of the groups that is in a higher risk bracket for CTS? This is because we use our hands, wrists, and forearms so very much. For example, wedging and throwing are two activities that set us up for this form of repetitive motion injury.

Remember that working with clay is a physical effort, as well as being a source of satisfaction and fun. Before working, take five minutes to warm up your muscles, including the ones in your hands, wrists, and arms, with stretching exercises. Take plenty of breaks during your clay time and stretch out again. Several periods of doing these stretches can help reduce fatigue as well as stress on your joints, ligaments, and nerve bundles.

To help you better understand (and hopefully avoid) CTS, I've gathered together some helpful links.


June 11, 2010 at 11:10 am
(1) Peaceful Potter says:

You can move up the arms from the wrists and get into other areas of the upper body that pottery can wreak havoc on also. Also bad posture will really hurt you in the long run. A good core is essential to a potter. Speaking from extreme experience.

June 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm
(2) Pottery Teacher says:

I had some pretty bad wrist pain for throwing and wedging a number of years ago. I agree that proper technique, stretching, strengthening and rest are crucial.

I also try to change up my technique, even switch hands while centering, to give critical muscles a rest.

June 13, 2010 at 8:47 am
(3) Potter Beth says:

*rueful smile* Mine’s RA, not carpal tunnel. Even so, I’ve had to change hands completely while centering. My right wrist won’t do it anymore, so I center using my left hand and wrist now. Then I move over and throw using my right as the outside hand. Switching sides like that seems to keep both sides from getting over-stressed now. :)

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