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Old N Rusty

hand cramps

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I tend to grip my hammer handle very tightly, and often am squeezing the tongs in my left hand tight also. all this extreme effort builds muscle that needs to be worked in the opposite way or it will cramp and hurt. Solution? elastic bands to exercise the hand and fingers, OUT . make it a habit to carry a big rubber band and work it out.

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Mark Aspery showed me and Isometric exercise that helps ...put your hands together at mid chest pushing against each other then point your hands down while still pushing ...do this a few times before you start work . seems to help me.

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I tend to grip my hammer handle very tightly, and often am squeezing the tongs in my left hand tight also. all this extreme effort builds muscle that needs to be worked in the opposite way or it will cramp and hurt. Solution? elastic bands to exercise the hand and fingers, OUT . make it a habit to carry a big rubber band and work it out.


I would think a better solution is to not grip so tight. I think generally when someone grips a hammer tight either it is too heavy for them or the handle is the wrong size.

ron

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In the past I have found that my hammer handles were just way to slender for my hands and therefore I tended to grip them to tight to keep a grip on them. My solution was to re-handle the ones I use the most. Another thing I used to do was get a chunk of microcrystaline wax and squeeze it until it was soft and pliable. This gave me a stronger grip and that helped reduce the cramping issues. Another thought is to eat a proper diet that has enough potassium in it and to drink enough fluids while forging. During warm weather it can sure drain you quickly of essential electrolytes so watch your fluid intake.

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Baton Rouge is HOT all summer, today was 93F i know the water/ electrolyte issues, and I love banannas they are a tasty way to replenish potassium. working alone at the forge I am careful to keep a wet towel around my neck( wet from the ice chest)and a large fan makes it tolerable, for me at least. No two smiths will ever agree what the hammer handle should be like,its too personal. I find the Sears cross peen handle to be too long, and too fat, if i work it down to a flattened oval just fat enough that my fingers wrap around and just touch my palm. It feels right i use a tight grip maybe too tight i dunno it works for me. the exercises,with a big rubber band, i spoke about also work for ME.

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The proper way to hammer and eventually end up with tendinitis or some other problem is to learn to throw the hammer.Your grip should loose as the hammer is descending as if the only reason for a handle is so you won't loose the hammer into space.It is then gripped on the rebound raised to the required hight aimed and thrown again.the looser the grip on descent the better.
A slab sided handle is best because it allows you to feel the angle at which your releasing the hammer as you through it and direct you blows with accuracy.Believe me as after 40 yrs of full time free hand forging and having injured my severely in my first ten years of smithing this is how it should be done.

Doc

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http://www.ergopro.com/page.html?id=21

The second line "wrist stretches" work well for me. I do them prior to any work where I will be gripping something.

And, yeah, relax the grip when working! Gripping hard provides zero benefit.

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Doc and others have stated similar techniques.

BP1001 Hofi Hammer Technique.

BP1002 Hofi Hammer Technique - The Swing

The best way I can describe it is to hold a single piece of paper between the thumb and fingerprints vertically in your hammer hand. Lay your hammer on the face of the anvil, and hold the hammer handle the EXACT same way as you held the page of paper, that is on the sides of the hammer handle, between the thumb and fingerprints. The wood of the handle should only touch the heel of your hand as the hammer is lifted. Once the hammer is at shoulder, ear, or what ever height is right for you, throw the hammer head at the hot metal using the thumb and fingerprints only to guide the hammer head to the desired point of impact. Catch it on the rebound, lift, and repeat as needed.

For the long handle group, try choking up on the handle a bit till you reach the balance point. The grip will not allow you to push the hammer at the work. The grip is not to hold the hammer, but to guide it to the desired point of impact, letting the hammer do all the work..


BP1006 Hofi Tong Clips

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Glenn, that hammer technique works well. And it is "showy". It makes a callus on the palm of my hand from the hammer end no other craft seems to get. But, it requires me to "think" the hammer blow. I want to think about the work and monkey hit. I prefer to use a round ball peen with soft edges and a flat dome face, so I dont have to worry about hammer marks like a square face requires.

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http://www.ergopro.com/page.html?id=21

The second line "wrist stretches" work well for me. I do them prior to any work where I will be gripping something.

And, yeah, relax the grip when working! Gripping hard provides zero benefit.



Thanks for posting the link with the pictures. I'm a visual learner. They work great.

Everyone had good advice. Thanks all.

Mark <º))><

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It's called arm pump in the dirt bike racing circles. The stretches work wonders but the biggest help will be to relax your grip. The tension is pumping up the pressure in the forearm muscles therefore restricting blood flow to the hands.

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Eating a pickle is an almost instant cramp cure.
I think it's the sodium, but I do know it works.

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