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this tip can help advoid arm stress injuries

updated tue 4 nov 03


Micheline Fallis on mon 3 nov 03

I shudder in pain when ever I see the postings of potters trying to keep going in spite of the pottery related injuries they have. I don't consider myself to be in the ranks of the people who give out technical advise [with whom i am gratful] on this list,but my own experience with arm injuries could help someone out there.It would seen that these injuries start showing up around the 5 th 7 year mark. It is sad to see someone that loves clay,have to give it up most of their clay dreams.
I will give this bit of history to show how helpful and important strength training is.
This time of year we are pushing the limits,trying to meet demands and putting well intended rules aside [like only working so many hours a week] It leaves us wide open for arm injuries.
Ten years ago I had gotten a bad disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy from working 12 hour days,7 days a week. The symptoms are similar to tendinitis and corporal tunnel, so 9 doctors and 18 months later I finally found out what I had. The disease effects your nervoussystem as well as your blood circulation. By the time they caught mine,my bone x rays showed decay over the entire length of both arms and hands..My arms were turning black. If it would have gone on much longer I would have lost my arms.I was one of the lucky ones and have had a almost full recovery.
The amazing thing is I not only got the use of both my arms again, but I am throwing more pots than ever.Seeing that I am no longer so young that is pretty good!!! I am so grateful that I thought someone out there could learn from this experience.{ I am actually a very private sort of person and really don't like to talk about this part of my life]
Anyway what I learn ed was, that the way to keep your arms from wearing down and being susceptible to these injuries is really very simple. You have to keep the condition of your arms stronger than the job you do.By keeping the strength of you muscles in your arms higher than the energy that you use in a week to throw pots they don't wear down very easily.I hate exercise,but this doesn't take a lot of time .
Start off by using weights that you can handle easily [ like one to three pounds] and work up to what you need. Most of the pots that I throw are 6 pds and under, so I use a ten pound weight. Rest your arm on your leg so that your arm is straight out and use only your wrist to lift the weight straight up.Be carfull when you start to do only as many reps as you can comforably do .Eight is a good goal to start with.. I do 12. Then in the same sort of position do the same,only use only your wrist to move the weight down and then level.Last, do the same thing moving your wrist sideways. These exercises strenthen our throwing muscles. I do one more. I wedge my elbow into my leg,like you would if you were centering a large piece of clay for control and do a potters arm curl.Repeat so that you do three sets. It is important that you do this on a two day stretch that you are not doing a lot. Your arms need the second day to strengthen. I only do this once a week.
I realize that like myself, one doesn't worry about this kind of thing till you are in trouble,but maybe there is someone a whole lot smarter than me and doesn't have to learn by experience!!
Does anyone else have some good survival tips.?
Micheline Fallis
Cold Lake,Alberta


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