How to avoid wear damage caused by hammer striking

We’ve talked to Oscar Puleo, occupational therapist about the first signs of wear damage and how to avoid the risk of being hurt. He also shares his best advices on what to think about when using a hammer on a regular basis.

What’s important to think about when using a hammer to avoid injuries cause by vibrations?

“It’s difficult to say, but self-awareness is key. Try to paus when you feel tired in the arm as it’s when you are tired that you strain muscles and ligaments. When you’re tired it’s easy to damage oneself, due to the muscles being incapable to stabilise the arm enough to handle the weight.”

What’s the most common cause for wear damage?

“Overwork and overload. The most common fault made is not listening to the body. People who start to notice numbness and a tingling feeling in the arms and hands tend to hold off seeking professional help and in those cases the damage gets bigger. Nerve damages due to vibrations are common.”

Anything special you have noticed by watching carpenters?

“The choice of hammer seems to depend on what the user prefers, often being a choice between a light or heavy model, but in fact the most important thing is how the hammer is used. When striking with a hammer it’s important to distribute the weight over the joints (shoulder, elbow and wrist). Practice the wrist motion and let go between the strikes.”

3 tips on how to use a hammer in a more ergonomic way

1. Self-awareness is key

Make sure to rest when you are tired to avoid straining your muscles and ligaments. When you’re tired the muscles are incapable to stabilise the arm enough to handle the weight – leading to injuries.

2. Take (a lot of) short brakes

Striking a hammer is a resource demanding repetitive motion. By taking a lot of short brakes, you can recharge your muscles faster and strike more efficient.

3. Distribute the weight

By distributing the weight of the strike between the joints (shoulder, elbow and wrist) you avoid stressing a specific joint. It’s also good to practice the wrist motion and let go between the strikes.

4 signs of wear damage to be aware of

1. Numbness and tingling in fingers

This is most common during night time, waking up with numb fingers.

2. Less grip strength

Difficulties getting a good grip of the hammer or starting to drop more things due to less grip strength.

3. Less endurance in hand and forearm

Getting tired faster when striking the hammer.

4. Increasing pain in wrist and elbow

Discomfort when moving, both with and without weight.

Tools we talked about