Article Round-up: Ceramics, Repetitive Stress, and Ergonomics

Instead of having our general Friday news briefs, I’ve opted to cover a specific topic, ceramics and health issues. We all know about the dangers of inhaling clay dust, but there are many other areas we can attend to keep ourselves healthy or to work within the limits of our health conditions. Personally, I am unable to do some of the things I used to be able to do with clay. In addition, I have altered some of the ways I do things to compensate for problems I have with arthritis in my neck and hands. I know I am not the only one…many are in the same boat. Potters, sculptors and ceramists, as a group, suffer from repetitive strain and cumulative trauma to joints and tissues. Tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, fibromyalgia. Also, back, neck, and shoulder pain and muscle strain. Yes, we can become stronger, physically, by working with clay, but we do pay certain ways. Here are some links to briefs about issues and solutions. For good measure, I’ve even thrown in a story about skin care for potters. If we take proper care of ourselves, we will be able to prevent injuries and enjoy our passion, ceramics.


MDGuidelines Occupational Information for Thrower, MD Guidelines. Job description of potter, list of occupational hazards of throwing.

How you can beat aches and pains if you love doing pottery, by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR, A rheumatologist discusses areas of the body that are affected from repeated throwing over time, especially the neck.

safety – health, updated April 18, 2011, Clayart. A subject list for the message board on the site…attends many health-related subjects relevant to potters. Arthritis and repetitive strain injury account for many entries.


ERGONOMICS IN THE CERAMIC STUDIO: PROPER STUDIO EQUIPMENT AND EXERCISE, by Jayne Shatz,  October 22, 2009, CERAMIC WRITINGS FROM JAYNE SHATZ. Covers health issues, ergonomics, and the role of exercise in keeping fit enough to prevent injury and strain.

Prevent Wrist Injuries,February, 2011, Pottery-on-the-Wheel, How to prevent repetitive motion, repetitive strain to the wrist.

4000 year-old technology solves injury problem, increases output 20%, and eliminates rejects, by Dan MacLeod, January 10, 2006. An ergonomics consultant shows how he modified a potter’s wheel to create an ergonomic work station.

Ergonomics and Ceramics: An overview, by Johanna DeMaine, Australian Ceramics. An Australian Ceramics Association publication detailing all aspects of ceramics work and how to improve the way we work with clay.

Is Ceramic Clay Good for Skin?, Elizabeth Beeson, February 4, 2011, Suite 101. Skin care is especially important…dry skin, abraded skin from working with heavily grogged clay….

Take Great Care of Your Hands: Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury with Stretches and Warmth, by Paula S. Morgan, Written for beaders, but much of it applies to us…the need to stretch and take breaks.

About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
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