Proximal forearm extensor muscle strain is reduced when driving nails using a shock-controlled hammer

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Abstract

Background

Repetitive hammer use has been associated with strain and musculoskeletal injuries. This study investigated if using a shock-control hammer reduces forearm muscle strain by observing adverse physiological responses (i.e. inflammation and localized edema) after use.

Methods

Three matched framing hammers were studied, including a wood-handle, steel-handle, and shock-control hammer. Fifty volunteers were randomly assigned to use one of these hammers at a fatiguing pace of one strike every second, to seat 20 nails in a wood beam. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to scan the forearm muscles for inflammation before the task, immediately after hammering, and one to two days after. Electromyogram signals were measured to estimate grip exertions and localized muscle fatigue. High-speed video was used to calculate the energy of nail strikes.

Findings

While estimated grip force was similar across the three hammers, the shock-control hammer had 40% greater kinetic energy upon impact and markedly less proximal extensor muscle edema than the wood-handle and steel-handle hammers, immediately after use (p < .05).

Interpretation

Less edema observed for the shock-control hammer suggests that isolating handle shock can mitigate strain in proximal forearm extensor muscles.

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