avoiding maille related injury (a service project)
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Joined: June 09, 2005
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avoiding maille related injury (a service project)
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Posted on Tue May 13, 2008 2:33 pm
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My name is David Cranston I have been making chainmaille for about 3 years. I'm new to this board but I've been active on the TRL forums for some time. I am pursuing a doctorate in Physical Therapy. One assignment I have is to come up with an ergonomic training for a group of people. I thought maillers wold be a great group since it seams many of us have overuse problems with our wrists and posture problems with our neck and back.
So here's what I need from you: I need pictures of your work area as well as picture of you working. I would like a close up of your hands and wrists from the side while you are working as well as a profile and frontal picture of your whole body while you work so I can assess posture. When I am finished I will post my analyses and give directions on how to best position yourself to avoid repetitive stress injury. Don't worry I will not post any pictures of you.
Once finished I hope this will help many people in the maille community avoid injury and continue mailling for years to come.

please e-mail the pictures as well as how long you have been mailing to ptmailler@yahoo.com

Joined: August 13, 2007
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Posted on Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:51 am
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I don't experience any problems with my wrist at all, but I almost always have a sharp pain in my upper back/bottom of my neck when mailling. Usually because I bring my shoulders up when working, any pointers? I keep trying to remind myself to keep the shoulders down, but no luck. Sad

Joined: August 14, 2008
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Location: Edgewater, MD

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Posted on Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:43 am
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I dont have any pain when i work. I usually cant sit still so im always moving around, changing positions. Coif Smiley

Joined: July 16, 2008
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Posted on Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:22 am
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I have tendinitis in both wrists from learning sign language back in high school (to much practice lead to much repetitive movement lead to this painfull problem). Although the pain comes and goes depending on what im doing, I've found i've never had a problem when weaving. After working with stainless for a while, my wrists may hurt a bit but I think thats more cause I have very crappy pliars for trying to work with such a strong metal (short handle, no padding, needle nose pliars). When I start to feel any kind of pain I've learned to just take a break and relax my wrists for a bit, mabey even change my position.
I believe I read somewhere, someone was saying that mailling actually relaxes certian muscles in your wrists?

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Joined: November 22, 2007
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Location: Pleasanton, Ca, USA

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Posted on Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:05 pm
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I don't let people take pictures of me. It steals the soul you know! Very Happy

I sit on a rolling chair that is as high as it can go, (hubby is 6'4" & I'm 5'6") I scoot the chair as far forward as I can, i.e. my abdomen is touching the table. I have found that this keeps me very straight. I keep my work off the table, my inlay is large enough that I pile it on itself & the end I'm working on is about 5" above the table top. My elbows rest just off the edge of the table, putting my hands gripping pliers about 6" off the table. This is just enough room for the weave to stretch but not enough for me to have the weight of the piece dangling. I stretch my wrists and fingers after every row, and usually there's some flexing or odd movement of some sort when there's a color change.

I already have back problems, large chest Rolling Eyes and joint problems from injuries & frostbite, so I'm not sure I'd be much help.

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Joined: May 07, 2008
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Location: Germany, Herxheim

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Posted on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:21 pm
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My experiences with hurting back and joints (shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers) are as follows: Before the beginning of my personal mailleing age, I HAD problems with my wrists, and I had symptoms of a mild arthritis in my fingers. Elbows both were already operated on (tennis elbow); shoulder joints had already multiple times to be set (very loose). Back problems as usual in my age... Summarized: a wreck.

First Mailleing worsened the wrist problems, but miraculously removed the finger arthritis (maybe by a beginning muscular training due to usage of pliers, stretching and flexing of muscles, you know. Elbows and shoulders reacted "neutral"; no worsening, no improvement (only sometimes a little bit pain in rght elbow, if I cut just too many rings). The wrist problems finally could be solved by modification of my pliers, so a more natural wrist angle when bending rings was achieved - see my article about second iteration tweezers and tools - look for the new plier jaw tips. Back problems fortunately did not arise additional ones, that would not have been there, before I ever thought about mailleing.

So over-all, I am relatively satisfied now with my current status. I hope it will stay...


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Human societies are like chain mail.
A single link will be worth nothing.
A chain is of use, but will break at the weakest link.
A weak weave will have the need to replace weak links.
A strong weave will survive even with weak links included.

Joined: April 04, 2009
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Posted on Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:10 pm
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when i chainmail i usually work with small rings and actually use my fingers because its faster theres no sliding the ring into the pliers or anything but when i work for more than an hour or two my hands start to sweat? Confused but like the other guy i pull my chair up so that my stomach is touching the table for 2 reasons one so when i drop a ring i usually find it two i sit up straighter but still when i do that i hang my head i try not to but i do so then my neck right next to my back and the top are sore and somtimes i do that when i dont chainmail and i cant sleep now because i live in Minnesota land of the frozen when its winter i sleep harder but get up early and then in the summer i get up late thats all! oh and if any of you ever drink tea while doing chainmaile i suggest you drink either raspberry or chamomile tea with 1-2 splendas or sugar packets it calms the nerves and it keeps you awake! i prefer chamomile but raspberry is the shiz niz!

Joined: September 11, 2003
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Posted on Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:58 am
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I find that working at right angles and high up helps. This is something i picked up while i was at jewelery school. Basically this means while you are sitting have your feet at 90 degrees to the floor and your knees at 90 degrees and your hips as well. And with a table that is high up so you can rest your arms on it and keep the pliers and tools (especially the smaller projects that you would normally lean close into to see) in focus and close up. And of course stretching your hands and wrists out every now and then helps a lot as well.


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Joined: December 29, 2007
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Posted on Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:08 pm
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I usually sit in a leather easy chair whose arms are far enough apart to comfortably "snug" my briefcase kit between. The bottom of the kit "hovers in the barest contact with my legs, my shoulders remain in at a natural height, and the loom is just barely below my sightline. So, no problems at all. Coif Cool Smiley Very Happy

Joined: July 12, 2009
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Location: Illinois

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Posted on Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:48 am
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I am definitely a newbie here. I have only been making maille jewelry for less than a year. I have been making beaded jewelry for 3 years now.

Since everyone is telling their aches and pains I will share mine.... I have a titanium plate in my lower neck from a herniated disk and a lot of back trouble. I have had carpal tunnel surgery in both hands prior to the neck surgery, which I wouldn't have needed if they had found the disk problem first. I can't crochet anymore and even the computer sometimes puts my hands to sleep. But making maille does not bother me. Except this last weekend when trying to wire an earring rack using 18ga.steel wire which almost killed my hands. (not finished because I had to stop) I think my tools are just too small for this task to be completed properly. I usually sit at the kitchen table in a totally uncomfortable wooden chair. Although I have a great chair at my beading desk but it is not big enough to spread all my stuff out on for making maille. I also see a chiropractor faithfully so they fix me up every couple of weeks. If I allowed myself to be photographed as you described you would tear up my set up. But I hate being photographed so it is unlikely that I would actually submit them.

I had to laugh at the comments of pushing your chair up so your belly is next to the table because I drop rings (and Beads) all the time and this prevents them from ending up on the floor, usually. Smile

I hope you get the response you need for this project.

Joined: April 2, 2012
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Posted on Fri May 18, 2012 9:43 am
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Might as well share too.

This ones a little strange. I wind all my rings by hand with a pair of pliers in my left and my right hand free. I guide wire with my right, and use the pliers to force it neatly into place. After a good couple hours of winding, though, I notice that the feeling in my left thumb (pliers side) is numb for hours after. Sometimes days. Its been 3 days since I made coils last, and the ability to sense has mostly returned, but theres still some areas that are not as sensitive as others. I notice that if I work with my arms elevated to about chest level this aggravates the numbness.

Youre out of luck, though. Im not a very photogenic mailler.

Joined: March 3, 2002
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Posted on Mon May 21, 2012 1:10 am
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this thread is awesome.

i'll go for some free ergo tips! i'll try to get you some photos of me working.

protip: if your hand is going numb, it's time to stop doing it how you are doing it. research other winding methods.

edit: mailler-daemon. Sad miss you, OP

PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

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