Being Ergonomic in the Hobby

May 24, 2020

    1. Earlier this week, I caused a carpal tunnel flare-up from restringing a doll- the strong tension and gripping of the restringing tool was too much for my carpal tunnel and now I'm in a brace and can't do crafts or anything until it recovers :...(

      Which had me thinking about how a lot of the stuff I do in this hobby can cause small damages to my body over time- hunching over to sew/paint, sewing in general as a repetitive motion, using small tools, desk/chair height and comfort, etc. I will be investing in a more ergonomic-friendly workspace for my long-term health.

      So, some discussion questions!

      1. What are some solutions you've made to reduce long-term ergonomic/physical health risk?

      2. What are some common things people do in the hobby that we may not realize could cause damage to our physical health?

      3. Have you ever experienced a doll-related injury? What happened, and did you recover okay?
      • x 3
    2. 1. What are some solutions you've made to reduce long-term ergonomic/physical health risk?
      "Lift with your legs” is always solid advice. I also avoid hunching over by doing most of my hand sewing lying in bed propped up by a few pillows.
      2. What are some common things people do in the hobby that we may not realize could cause damage to our physical health?
      I think eye strain is an issue, potentially damaging your vision squinting at tiny stitches...
      3. Have you ever experienced a doll-related injury? What happened, and did you recover okay?
      I have spent a few hours looking at doll stuff on my tablet that my elbow became sore from all my swiping and scrolling :lol: And of course the requisite blisters and stabbing that come with restring a doll....
    3. Yeah I've found restringing can be a really terrifying process, especially with bigger dolls! There were times where I nearly smashed my fingertips between joints... I also wear safety glasses any time I do that sort of handling, just in case!
      • x 1
    4. I have had a few injuries from restringing, mostly pinches, that really haven't been serious enough to make me reconsider how I go about it. At worst, if I'm having a really hard time, I'll have my husband help me, but it's usually not necessary. I sew for my dolls, but I take enough breaks that it doesn't hurt much. If my back/shoulders start hurting enough, I stop for awhile.

      I think the biggest danger is faceups. For my first couple of years, I didn't wear a mask and thought the whole "wear a mask" thing was just based in paranoia and it wouldn't happen to me---until it did. I got a cough that wouldn't go away, and got scared enough to buy a mask. I use it all the time now and the cough got better but isn't totally gone. I don't know what kind of permanent damage it may have done, but I'm glad I bought a mask when I did. Even a $40 mask is cheaper than one doctor appointment in the US, so why didn't I do it sooner? I don't have a good answer, but it's definitely worth getting a mask.
      • x 5
    5. I totally agree! You can lose arms and legs and still get by but there is no means around respiratory health, can't put a price on protecting your lungs. I hope you start to feel better soon! I've even been using my respirator whenever I use bleach and other chemicals for house cleaning, definitely noticed a clear difference afterwards. Proper protection when using sealants is super important and definitely not something you can skirt around.
    6. My dad is currently suffering through stage 4 lung cancer, even though he never exposed himself to anything that would cause it (like smoking, chemicals, etc), so I'm a little extra concerned about people and lung health. If a $40 mask might prevent this agony, I see no reason not to do it! Even if you might be one of the lucky ones who isn't affected, it's still worth it to me to do what you can to stay safe. Even if you think you don't care about yourself, this is a horribly painful way to go. It's just not worth the risk.
    7. I agree all the chemicals stuff is a big risk. Safety first when doing any sanding/modding/faceups! Always use mask/gloves and ensure proper ventilation (and use water when sanding).
      Another big thing is to remember to stretch, even if you've never had problems before. Look up "carpal tunnel stretches" for tips.
      And just like when cutting food stuff in the kitchen, make sure the trajectory of your tools will be safe even if you slip.... I once hit my hand on the saw I was using to get rid of unwanted doll boobs and it was fine that time but I got a bit more careful after... :XD:

      For restringing I use thick coated wire (light colors for less stains). You can affect the size and shape of the part you pull on this way. Use your legs to keep the doll part(s) in place and pull with both hands. With the right positioning if you slip the doll will still stay with your legs or fall harmlessly to the floor. But this will still put strain on the wrist... I guess if you used a durable, wide wrist wrap to hook the tool in, you could do the pulling without having to squeeze. I've not tried this yet.

      Regular computer use for work coupled with my hobbies has caused a persistent problem with my hands, so I can't really sew or knit anymore (unless it's for like 5 minutes a day and I just don't have patience for that). Pinching delicately to keep the fabric/string in place will start to hurt in minutes, and continued use of hands will result in days of pain. Haven't had the chance to try sewing by machine though, I imagine that would be easier simply because it takes less time.

      I'm going to follow this thread to see if people have more tips for doing doll related stuff with minimal physical strain.:3nodding:
    8. A proper restringing tool can really save your hands a lot of strain when you're restringing a larger doll... I know some people do just fine with wires and ribbons and such, but I wouldn't trade my stringing tool for anything else. I'm a true believer.
      • x 2
    9. 1. What are some solutions you've made to reduce long-term ergonomic/physical health risk?
      I've switched from sitting on an exercise ball for extended projects and while filming doll related videos, rather than sitting on a chair or the floor (due to the back and neck pain I started experiencing from the latter).

      2. What are some common things people do in the hobby that we may not realize could cause damage to our physical health?
      I think a lot of people don't realize the potential danger in painting and sealants.

      3. Have you ever experienced a doll-related injury? What happened, and did you recover okay?
      I burned myself once or twice while ironing wefts for doll wigs. I'm fine now :)
    10. In my first attempt at restringing, I used an “official” elastic puller I’d bought from Luts. While trying to pull the elastic through the legs far enough to attach the hooks in the feet, the handle of the puller ripped right off the metal rod and a staple in the handle gouged my thumb real good. It bled quite a bit and hurt like a bitch, but I recovered.

      I don’t use string pullers anymore, just lengths of thin ribbon to pull elastic through. I figure ribbon is less likely to rip, but if it does, there are no points or sharp edges to impale or slice off a finger. :lol:
      • x 1
    11. I read this thread and thought how lucky I am that despite my frequent clumsiness I don't often hurt myself. I then went on to attempt to make some eyes and burnt my thumb (and then went and got the silicone finger protectors which I had bought for the express purpose of using so I don't burn myself when working with hot materials) then I cut my other thumb because I did not check the trajectory of my blade. And because apparently I don't learn I then did the same thing and cut a finger. I blame the fact I just found a long lost craft knife that's actually sharp unlike my old one. For my trouble I have made one decent eye. :doh
      • x 1
    12. My wrists are in bad shape to the point where doing literally anything with my hands is painful. I'd definitely recommend getting wrist braces. I also recommend wearing them even when your hands/wrists aren't hurting. The pair I use are actually roller blading wrist braces. I wanted a pair I could wear while still being able to hold a pencil. Most medical wrist braces are designed to go on either hand and have a piece of plastic on the underside that prevented me from holding a pencil comfortably. The pair I use had pieces of plastic on the underside, but they were easily removed. I can comfortably wear them while writing, drawing, etc.

      It might also be worthwhile to try compression wrist braces. They're just thin fabric. I got a pair as a gift that are copper infused. I keep losing them so I haven't worn them enough to say if they help at all. They make copper compression braces for other joints as well.

      If you're going to be sitting a lot getting a good pillow can help. I use a very dense foam one. Getting a magnifying lamp can help you not lean forward so much. They even make little ones that attach to a sewing machine. I've got one that has adjustable brightness and can change the hue of the light as well. It helps me be able to draw tiny eyelashes without needing to have the doll six inches from my face.
      • x 3
    13. Oh no! I'm so sorry. I hope you can get lots of rest and that your wrists calm down soon. :hug:

      I understand exactly what you mean. I tore my rotator cuff (non-doll related) but it has effected how I do EVERYTHING, including very much the bjd hobby. I've been to physical therapy multiple times, but my shoulder is still prone to injury very easily (...I also managed to sprain my good shoulder last year, so both are really easy to mess up if I am not SUPER careful).

      I couldn't restring at all for quite some time. I am finally getting more strength now and I make sure that I have very good posture when I am doing any sort of re-stringing so that I am not pulling at an angle that is going to hurt me later. Shoulders down and back, pulling with my shoulder blades and not just my biceps.
      Same with lifting my dolls, I make sure I use both arms, and have my shoulders set, upper arms close to my sides, so that the weight is distributed.

      For painting, tearing my rotator cuff effected my hand coordination and it would make my hand shake. Thankfully it was my off hand, but that was still the hand that I hold the doll head with. Now I rest my hand against the table instead of holding it floating to give a little more support and take LOTS of breaks. I stretch, I massage stuff, I move, I pop things back into place. I try to be aware of what I would have ignored before in my body because I was focused on my work instead.
      Breaks are the most important thing. When I started in the hobby I could do a faceup in one day like a sort of marathon. Now I break up the process over 2, 3, or even more days.
      I also couldn't look down because stuff in my back was compensating for my shoulder and it would freak out whenever I had my head in that angle. So I had to learn to make sure my work surface was a proper height.
      After spraining my good shoulder, sadly my dominant hand, I had to build strength and coordination back up to be able to paint fine lines again.

      It's all a process that has taken a surprisingly long time for me to figure out first what I was doing that would hurt me, then trying different things to keep it from happening. I'm so happy that I am in a much better place now and that I can enjoy my dolls more and more each day. They are really important to me and the hobby is really important to me, so it has been worth it to be patient and learn again. :chocoheart
    14. I too was injured by string pullers back in the day. Most of my doll-related injuries were from trying to restring with that thing. I bled a lot. Mostly on my Migidoll Ryu hybrid lol
      I tossed it in the garbage and never once regretted it. I only use ribbon now too. If it doesn't go through the channels I use some of my armature wire and poke it through.

      I've also had a an s-hook embedded in my thumb. I started using chopsticks to hold elastic at the wrists and ankles because of that.
      #14 VampireAngel13, May 26, 2020
      Last edited: May 27, 2020
    15. I also use sticks for holding elastic! It's just way easier to use too when you need to re-hook things onto the string.

      I may switch to ribbon myself, hearing and seeing so many people have a good experience with that method- my injury came from a string puller. Using any kind of thin metal honestly makes me nervous too!
    16. It's SO much easier, isn't it?? Putting hands and feet on went from a nightmare to nothing. lol Less damage on the dolls as well (quick PSA: only use wood, not metal. Metal bad.).

      Yeah, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands (which are obviously my hands). I have friends who've been at this longer than me who swear by them, but nope. Not for me. I figure whatever makes stringing an easy, safe experience is the way to go.
    17. I too have been injured while restringing. The S-hook slipped and gave me a shallow cut. I bled on the recently acquired doll and decided it was a sign she really was mine now.

      I've more often gotten repetitive strain injuries crafting for dolls. When you feel something happening, STOP. Pushing through the pain will make the injury worse.
    18. 1. What are some solutions you've made to reduce long-term ergonomic/physical health risk?
      I use ribbon, pliers, and slim rods to help with restring my doll or change out parts. I also only do this on the floor, I need a flat surface for stability.
      2. What are some common things people do in the hobby that we may not realize could cause damage to our physical health?
      Breathing in the materials they use for customizing the dolls and not paying attention the doll's limbs (a poke in the eye hurts!).
      3. Have you ever experienced a doll-related injury? What happened, and did you recover okay?
      I have been pinched by joints and poked in the eye by my doll's hand. All minor things and there was nothing to recover from.
    19. I can't move out the hooks from my doll's arm with ribbon, so I used a not working headset's cord. It teared apart, and hit me on the eye. I don't had any serious injury, but it was very painful. So stringing is only in safety googles.... And I bought two stringing tools. No more ribbons and cords.
      I always use respirator, I have got an asthmatic allergy. I use a non-toxic brush on sealant, because I am sesitive for aerosol, but it's still not something I want to breath in. For soft pastel I use FFP2 or FFP3 mask. Better safe than sorry.