A Cautionary Tale...

discussion of the niceties of turning on a bow, bungee or pole lathe.

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A Cautionary Tale...

Postby Robin Fawcett » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:40 pm

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When demonstrating turning on the leg-powered lathe the most frequently asked question is "Don't you get one big muscley leg from doing that all day" to which the joke reply is "Yes, but I live on the side of a steep mountain and walk round in circles on the flat!". Then I get more serious and explain that I balance it out by changing legs often.
Someone at a show told me they'd watched me for about an hour then come back later and I was still treadling with the same leg. I started to watch myself after that and realised that my default position was to stand on my right leg and treadle with the left. No matter how often I caught myself doing this and made a conscious effort to change I would still return to that position. So left leg gets plenty exercise and right leg bears all the weight.
My doctor asked what I did for a living and when I told him he explained that this posture had undoubtedly led to my prolapsed disc, sciatica in the right leg and excruciating agony all Winter and most of the Spring.
So take heed you pole lathe turners and change legs often!
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby Brian Williamson » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:44 pm

In the days when I did some semi-serious polelathing, I used to try and do all my roughing out left-handed and then do the more serious stuff right-handed.

This had the double effect of varying my posture and increasing my dexterity.

Maybe.

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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby robin wood » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:20 pm

I am not a spindle turner and don't know if it is possible but for bowls I stand with the right on a 3" block this means that instead of the default position being one in which your hips are at an angle and base of your spine twisted my hips sit square and spine straight, it has the added benefit that at the end of the stroke the right leg bends as the left goes all the way down to the floor. It's quite like riding a bike exchanging weight from side to side.
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby Robin Fawcett » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:23 am

Well done guys - you obviously thought about your work posture - I didn't and have suffered the consequences.
Rob...
Did you come up with the idea of standing on the block yourself or did someone tell you? Any evidence about what state George Lailey's back, hips and legs were in at the end of his career?

Stuart King once told me that the Bodger's didn't suffer too badly as they took it in turns to do the various tasks involved in producing chair components eg. felling, cleaving, shaving and turning.

ps. I've had a few goes on an electric lathe and it isn't half so much fun as doing it on a pole lathe.
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby robin wood » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:47 am

My thoughts on posture came from doing a lot of tai chi years ago, makes you conscious of posture and how to use your body efficiently. Also one bout of sciatica whilst working for National Trust and abusing back. No info on Lailey's posture. I was delighted when I visited Ion Constantin in Romania to see he was still strong and fit in his 70's.
Hope sciatica sorts itself out, its a sod to live with. I remember knowing I was getting better when I could put my socks on without having to dangle them at full stretch with fingertips. There are excellent exercises for the lower back that loosen and strengthen I tend to do just a minute or two warm up before I start work.
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby jrccaim » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:57 am

Indeed. I have a problem with the pitiformis muscle. That runs under your, erm, gluteus maximus, the muscle you sit on. Unfortunately the pitiformis bears on the sciatic nerve (whose job is to report back problems), so you think you have a back problem. But in fact you have a pain in the a..e. I was sent to a physical therapist's insititution by my doctor. They figured it out in 30 minutes, and gave me a bunch of stretches to do. Magic. Pain went away in a week. Most basic: lie on floor. Pull knee up to chest, far as you can. Hold it there 30 seconds at least. Relax. Do it again. Five repetitions at least. I try to do these basic stretches every night. When I don't , I pay for it next day.

I happen to have a left leg 1 cm shorter than the right. Not uncommon. Found out when I was doing Karate, and some moves were just plain clumsy for me. But all my life I compensated by toeing out while walking. This puts a strain on old pitiformis, who in turn bears on your sciatic nerve, and behold you have sciatica. These days, I try very hard to toe in. Counter-compensation. I do not wish to bore anyone with my personal problems. But I think there is a moral here. Do not toe out when treadling. Keep your foot square to the lathe bed, or even toe in a little. It is just like walking. And as you walk, practice toeing in.

This post is getting a little too long. But it seems that the native Americans (AKA "Indians") could always tell if footprints were made by white man or native. White man, you see, always toes out. Native points toes straight ahead. Ever since I found out about pitiformis, I am wondering if the natives knew something we don't.
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby Davie Crockett » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:38 am

I've seen several cases of Piriformis Syndrome during my career, almost all of them involve the pelvis being "off balance" in one way or another.

Not always the case in sciatic/back pain, but a useful differential diagnosis. Red flag (See a doctor urgently) symptoms are "Saddle paraesthesia"- Imagine sitting on a saddle, if anywhere your backside would touch the saddle is numb---inner thighs and butt cheeks......and increasing loss of bladder control.
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Re: A Cautionary Tale...

Postby ToneWood » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:04 pm

You might consider Alexander technique, which teaches techniques to help improve & maintain good posture by raising your awareness of problems and teaching techniques to remedy them. It was originally developed to help actors improve their posture for the stage but it has become popular for musicians & desk/computer-jockeys. I once read that King Crimson guitarist, Robert Fripp runs guitar courses [see wiki: Guitar Craft ]where they spend the entire first day just working on posture - because if you are going to play a lot of guitar you better make sure that your posture is good and that you are comfortable, otherwise you will give up and/or damage yourself.

I was surprised when I got the wife to measure me for a wetsuit a few years ago that my right calf is a full 1" larger than my left calf. Not sure if this is just a case of favouring a "master leg", like being right-handed or having a right "master-eye" (something shooters know about) - or the result of all the driving I do. I suspect the latter, as most activities I do/did are symmetrical (e.g. swimming, cycling, running, climbing, walking rather than, say, football, tennis, golf, shooting). I don't use a lathe.
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