Luthiers and RSI: Taking the Strain

14 Weird glasses

For instrument makers, repetitive strain injuries can mean untold pain and misery – and possibly the end of their career. Luthier Cameron Robertson explains how, with the help of occupational therapist Sara Propes, he adapted his work process to guard against the problems of RSI in the future

In his article on luthiers’ mental health (Making Matters, September 2019) John Beames brought up an excellent point: luthiers are keenly aware of the physical issues that can plague them, especially repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Many of us are used to dealing with the daily aches and pains our work puts on our bodies. But we should ask ourselves if we have blindly accepted physical issues as an inherent part of our profession, and surrendered to their inevitability. Do we just keep working through the pain and ultimately succumb to them one day? Why work until we find our breaking point if we don’t have to, and how can we continue to make and preserve instruments worthy of our traditions while also preserving our bodies? In this article I want to share my experiences with RSIs and how I have striven to minimise the effect they have on me and the work I produce. Through this, my hope is to help luthiers identify ways to make the changes that can improve their situation and protect themselves from injury.

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