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Right elbow pain from splitting

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Badfish740, Nov 30, 2008.

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  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    The other day after splitting with my 8lb maul I had a pretty good ache in my right elbow. I'm used to my shoulders being sore with that "good workout" kind of soreness that you get after working hard at the gym, but this is different. The pain is in the joint, not the muscle. I'm right handed so my right is always the lead hand when I'm swinging. I also notice that I tend to feel the impact when I strike a round in my right elbow. I try to swing "roundhouse" style with both of my hands ending up at the end of the handle when the maul strikes the wood, so its not as if my arm is getting a shock from holding too far up on the handle. Anyway, I love splitting by hand and can't afford a log splitter at the moment, but I can't afford to blow out my elbow either. As the son of a UPS driver who's had surgery on his back and both knees, I know how debilitating those kinds of injuries can be. What can I do to make sure I'm not setting myself up for an injury? Would some kind of vibration dampening glove help? How about the handle? This maul has a fiberglass handle and I'm not sure if that helps or hurts.

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  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I get that same pain if I pull too hard on the start rope on my splitter.

    Seriously, my shoulders and elbows were a wreck after years and years of splitting everything with a maul. Splitters are cheaper than medical care. You don't get any less exercise, you just get more done.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Yes, a hydraulic splitter was one of the best things I've ever bought but it was forced because of a back injury.

    However, I used to enjoy splitting wood by hand the same as I enjoy cutting it. My suggestion is to get a simple maul, but not too heavy. Get 3 splitting wedges (sometimes you'll hang a wedge or two and need to drive another down beside it to loosen things). Now instead of hitting with a big bang, simply drive the wedge in slowly. Let the maul do the work. You only lift it and aim it using only a very little force. It will be much easier on the joints and you'll split just as fast; or almost as fast depending upon what you are splitting.

    This brings up another point. All wood does not split the same. Some splits well through the heart while others need to be split from the edge in. For example: beech needs to be split from the outside in while when I hand split ash, I use a maul and one wedge....and can sit down while splitting! Ash can be split any old way as it is about as easy to split as fine furniture!

    As for the handle, I still use the wood handles.
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    The biggest issue with RSI is the "Repetitive" part. A change is as good as a rest. BB says he gets the same pain from the pull cord. I get the same pain from my computer mouse. BB needs a new spark plug, I need a different shaped mouse. You need to change up from that big maul to something else. I think the sliding hammer wedge would give you the most respite.
  6. Chief Ryan

    Chief Ryan New Member

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    Splitting Elbow :lol:
  7. Chief Ryan

    Chief Ryan New Member

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    If it is something like tennis elbow you can use one of those pressure bands that go around your forearm. What it does is create an anchor point where the band is instead of on the bone. It gives relief to Tendon where it attaches to the bone and it will heal.

    I got it really bad one time when building my deck. I was using a post hole digger and i irritated it. I also get it when i do a lot of piping.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I had it in my left elbow (I'm left handed) and found that any kind of axe or maul use would irritate it... Went to Dr's and was told to quit hand splitting... I'm now using a hydraulic and my elbow has (mostly) quit bothering me.

    Gooserider
  9. Acosi151

    Acosi151 New Member

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    I get the same pain after a day of splitting .. I'm pretty sure mine is aggravating an old snowboarding injury but aggravated still the same.
  10. TKeller

    TKeller New Member

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    I have had it alot. I think it is (at least in my case) from gripping. Gripping the split pieces to stack, gripping the pieces to put in the stove, and gripping the maul to do the splitting. Think about it. You have to grip the firewood and maul continuously almost. Anyway, it is more common as you age. I am 56. However, I did my really permanent damage from actually playing tennis. And yes, from gripping the tennis racket. I actually got it so bad I had to quite playing tennis. I couldn't even nail a nail with a hammer my arm was so weak. The best thing I found that helps you get through your firewood work with tennis elbow is to wear an elbow brace. Tighten the velco straps really tight. It really helps to the point of letting you continue working. The forearm wrap either with the tennis or working with firewood didn't help one bit. Yes, you got to live with it and keep on cutting and splitting.
  11. fugazi42

    fugazi42 New Member

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    I'm in the same boat as some of you- after a couple of months of splitting almost every day (about 15 cords in 5 months) I have a good case of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) in my left arm. I developed this from repetitive "gripping" as Tony describes. The actual act of splitting- raising and swinging the maul never bothered me. It was the constant gripping with my left hand to place wood on the stump that did it to me. I'm just about done with 6 weeks of PT for this problem and I'm almost back to normal. My suggestions: 1) use a lighter maul- I use a 4.5lb Gransfors and never found anything it couldn't split. 2) Vary your routine/technique. Lift things differently, vary your splitting stance, take breaks, and stretch while splitting. 3) See an Orthopedist and talk to them about braces/supports. BTW-this has nothing to do with age- I'm 32 and thought I was in good shape when this developed.

    Good luck!

    Josh
  12. lobsta1

    lobsta1 Member

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    I've also had this problem & agree that it is from "gripping". Not from the maul, but from the splits. It's a pain , but I found the solution was in using BOTH hands to pick up & stack the splits.

    Al
  13. Timber Wolf

    Timber Wolf New Member

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    For those in pain you may wish to try these .
    MSM taking this you must not have reactions to shellfish!!!!!
    Also Flaxseed oil it is a natural anti inflamatory and high in omega 3 for your heart .
    Both can be found at like riteaid,walgreens, walmart etc...
    These will not work overnight and need to be taken on a regular basis ,overtime you will see a difference in joint function
  14. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I'm not sure about anyone else, but gripping doesn't seem to be what aggravates my elbows - I do my own splitting w/ a hydraulic splitter, and also help a friend with his wood business, and will split (w/ a machine) better than a couple FULL cords a day - he pushes to-be split wood up to me on one side with a tractor, I grab rounds from that side, split them and toss them onto a conveyor on the other side that dumps them into the truck or trailer he's filling... I can do this pretty much non-stop for 6-7 hours, and have ZERO problems from my elbows, even though I'm doing a great deal of gripping - I can wear out a pair of leather gloves in less than a week...

    What seems to do me in is impacts - if I swing any sort of striking implement for more than a few minutes - sledge, common hammer, axe, you name it, I pay for it later...

    (OTOH, I've found that the plastic handles on the hydraulic splitter don't bother me a bit...)

    Gooserider
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