improper tool use

VIDEO: Gripping, Pinching and Tool Techniques to Avoid Injury

Since the time of this publishing, Mary Peters has retired and Kristy Robinson, PTA, CEAS III is now the Director of Onsite Services.

For people who work in warehouses picking and packing products or those who work on an assembly line putting together products, properly using your hands and arms, and the appropriate tools, can prevent injury.

In honor of National Safety Month, Mary Peters, our Director of Onsite Services, shares how to properly grip, pinch and use hand tools to avoid injury.


Here are a few of the highlights from the video:

Proper Gripping and Pinching Techniques

  • Use the entire hand when you grab, grip or pinch (not just the fingers).
  • Our fingers have relatively small muscles and long tendons. If you only use your fingertips, you may overstress those tendons and cause injury.
  • Use your forearm when possible to assist with any load.

How to Select the Right Tool Size

  • Use your long finger, bend it down to touch the first knuckle of your thumb. The open space created is the ideal size for your tool handle.
  • If your tool is too small, you will have to grip tighter and will overuse your tendons.
  • If your tool handle is too large, you will not be able to generate an efficient use of force.
  • If a tool is too small, you can wrap tape or other material around the handle to increase the grip size.

How to Select the Right Tool for the Job

  • Select the tool that allows your wrist to remain in a straight, neutral position
  • When doing tabletop work: Use a straight handled tool
  • When doing front facing work, like on an assembly line: Use a pistol grip tool
  • When working overhead: Use a pistol grip tool

Do Hand and Arm Recovery Stretches

  • Throughout the day, stretch your hands open and close to increase blood flow
  • For forearms and elbows, put your arm out straight, bend your hand down and place a little pressure on your hands, then put your hand out and place a little pressure on the palm (not the fingers)
  • Roll the palms up and roll the hands down, keeping arms bent or straight in front to engage your shoulders

Other Tips to Avoid Injury

  • Rotate your work: Change tools, positions or movements to prevent overuse
  • Change postures frequently
  • Add microstretch breaks into your day, a few seconds at a time
  • Use the largest joint to do the job to maximize efficiency and prevent too much stress or pressure on small joints or tendons
  • Adjust your work set up to keep all supplies close to you and avoid reaching too far
  • Utilize the proper tools or technology when it’s available and accessible

Want more information on how ARC Physical Therapy+ can help you or your workplace avoid injury? Contact us at 844-755-4272.

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