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Thread: Too much rotary cutting, or the dreaded A

  1. #1
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    Too much rotary cutting, or the dreaded A

    I cut strips for the plaid quilt for a few hours last night, and this morning I felt like I'd gotten hit by a car in my sleep. My hand is stiff, especially the ring and little finger. Is this simple overuse, bad body mechanics, bad rotary form, old age or the onset of arthritis? Hmmm, finger poking this on my phone (it's definitely not typing, lol) let me know my elbow is not happy with me, either.I was using my straight KAI cutter, because it has the nicer blade. I'm thinking maybe I should switch to the Fiskars one with the loop type handle. What do you think? I'll get thr ibuprofen going while you answer, lol. Oh, and I cut standing up because my shoulders are the weakest link, and I'm leery of anything that gets me at the wrong angle for them.

  2. #2
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    If I cut for a few hours with a rotary cutter, my fingers, hand and arm would be sore. Just sayin...

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    I know that I cannot stand at my cutting table and cut for a few hours. First of all, my back would hurt from standing and leaning over for a period of time. It works best for me if I change my activity frequently. Works ok for quilting I think. I rotate ironing, cutting sewing. Repetitive motion is a known problem for us, regardless of age.

  4. #4
    Super Member Cam's gram's Avatar
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    I use an Accuquilt for this reason plus it's faster and more accurate than I am!

  5. #5
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    TheMadPatter ... all of what you suggested are possibilities!

    Add in ... a not sharp blade can make the cutting harder, and thus, harder on our bodies.

    Also, the height of your cutting table, and your stance in doing the cutting, can all take a toll,
    if the ergonomics are not right.
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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I am 71 and would never cut strips for longer than an hour. If I had done what you did, I would have paid the same price. My advice is to lay off cutting for a couple of days to give your body time to heal. I always have a variety of things to do, and usually do not stick with any one activity longer than an hour at a time.

  7. #7
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    I pace myself with cutting. I have the 45 mm. Olfa cutter but find I reach for my smaller cutter often. The handle is smaller and shorter and the end fits in the palm of my hand for a better grip. It also helps if you put a couple of squares of rubberized shelf liner under your cutting ruler on top of the fabric. The shelf liner prevents the ruler from slipping and you can use less pressure to keep it in place. Take some Tylenol and let the hot shower loosen up your arm and shoulder muscles.

  8. #8
    Super Member Tiggersmom's Avatar
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    I swear by the Martelli cutter and my Accuquilt Big Go machine.
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  9. #9
    Junior Member stitch678's Avatar
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    You cut for A FEW HOURS !? No wonder you're sore. Doing a different activity with any muscle group that you don't do frequently or for long periods normally will do that. Please, next time, cut for half an hour, take a long walk, then do another half hour, do some laundry, another half hour...you get what l mean ?

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    Ok, I'm getting the idea that a few hours is bad. I'm 62 and I have been a server (waitress) for 40+ years and I am still working with, and if not keeping up with, passing 20 and 30 year olds. I forget that, while nothing else around me has changed, stuff *inside* me has. You'll all be glad to know that instead of quilting, I went out and worked in the garden for uh, 7 hours. At least I used different muscles!! Honestly, though, I'm getting ready for them to sell the urban farm in a year, so I have to turn it back into a plain old duplex again. So, there's a lot of "we might need this some day" to get rid of.

  11. #11
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    I am amazed to realize I'm getting older ... surely not me! It's when I overdo that I find that I can't do a particular activity or do as I used to do it. Am I really turning into my grandmother?
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  12. #12
    Super Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    Okay, I was advised by my rehumatologist a number of years ago, if you're past 25, you've probably got some arthritis. I have to take breaks (a lot of them) when I cut strips for the log cabin quilts I've done. I also have some fairly serious spinal issues (had two lumbar spine surgeries) and I'll be 73 soon -- as another poster pointed out, I do one task, then take a break and/or do another task for a while. There are a lot of things I used to do in my 20's that I sure don't do anymore, like lugging 50 lb. bags of fertilizer for my rose garden -- guess what, I decided that the price of having the rose garden was just too high!

  13. #13
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    I'm an RN and can tell you that most of us end up with arthritis somewhere. I probably have it although I don't "feel like I do". It sounds to me like you just overdid though. Several hours cutting is a lot!

  14. #14
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    I am 71 and would never cut strips for longer than an hour. If I had done what you did, I would have paid the same price. My advice is to lay off cutting for a couple of days to give your body time to heal. I always have a variety of things to do, and usually do not stick with any one activity longer than an hour at a time.
    I agree. My chiro told me to vary my activities to keep from having injuries and soreness. When I'm cutting, I try to cut a while and then go do something else. The same with piecing. It takes me longer to complete things this way but I also feel better while doing it. No matter how good your ergonomics are doing one thing for too long a time can have a negative affect on you especially as you age.
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    About half-a-hour at a time is about all I can cut, then my back starts hurting.

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    Isn't it funny, our minds say we can do "IT" but our bodies say, Ha, Ha! I'm 74 and that happens every day all day. Do your cutting in smaller time bits--it will still get done.

  17. #17
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    I like using the 60mm rotary cutter for cutting. Plus I use the AQ system for cutting strips to avoid repetitious cutting.

    Are you arching your finger tip to hold the ruler? I started using this method with less fatigue.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybQLai6Mv58

    Perhaps one of those weighted grippers for the ruler would help.Hope you feel better soon!

  18. #18
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    You might want to consider an ergonomic cutter like a Martelli. The thing that I've found most effective is to have a couple of cutters. Use them both switching back and forth, and as others mentioned, don't cut for over an hour! Take lots of breaks.
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  19. #19
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    I like my Fiskars ruler with the blade attached for cutting strips. It's about 7 x 28". But even with it I can't cut unlimited strips in one session. I hate my age limitations but try to be thankful for and focus on what I can do.

  20. #20
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    I agree with everyone that you maybe need to change activities off and on. When I need to have alot of fabric cuts I will cut for awhile and then go to sewing something and then iron a little and then back to cutting. Hope you feel better soon.

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    I agree with everyone, we have to remember that our bodies are aging and we cannot do everything that we did years ago. Even though I tell everyone that there is nothing that I cannot do today that I did when I was 18 or 20, that is in my head ( dreams) I will be 73 this summer, the body just doesn't work today like it did years ago.

  22. #22
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    I have the Fiskars you are talking about. I love it, but still several hours might be a little over the top. If you do something today using different muscles, the others can relax.

    I have to add that I mostly sit down when I am cutting. This could make a difference as well.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  23. #23
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    themadpatter, are you a right-handed cutter? If so, there is a lot of pressure on the left ring and little finger holding the ruler in place. Do you have something on your ruler to make it non-slip (I use the Guidelines 4 Quilting gripper strips)? If you non-slip your rulers, you will not have to press so hard to keep them in place.

    I have damaged joints from RA and can no longer use a regular rotary cutter because of the pressure it puts on the right index finger. The Martelli cutter is much less stressful on the hands.
    Lisa

  24. #24
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    take frequent breaks and I'm going to also recommend a die cutter, it's helping me so much! I have some various ortho issues and rotary cutting is next to impossible. A die cutter (I have a Sizzix Big Shot Plus but there are lots of brands) has been life changing! Well worth the price not to be in pain. I have a 2.5inch strip die and I've been having so much fun with it, making binding and strip quilts and teeny squares and diamonds...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Austinite View Post
    take frequent breaks and I'm going to also recommend a die cutter, it's helping me so much! I have some various ortho issues and rotary cutting is next to impossible. A die cutter (I have a Sizzix Big Shot Plus but there are lots of brands) has been life changing! Well worth the price not to be in pain. I have a 2.5inch strip die and I've been having so much fun with it, making binding and strip quilts and teeny squares and diamonds...
    How do the strip cutters work? Are they open at both ends? I have one of those big red sizzix machines around here somewhere.

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