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What is Hand Fatigue?

Haven Esme
Haven Esme

Hand fatigue is best described as a person's inability to generate the desired amount of force necessary to perform a task with his or her hands. There are numerous reasons that the fatigue occurs. In many cases, it is because of a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle. A buildup of lactic acid in the muscles causes blood circulation in the hand to decrease. As blood decreases, so does oxygen.

Individuals who use their hands continually because of a hobby or profession are at an increased risk of experiencing fatigue. For example, guitar players, writers, computer programmers, and artists are all at risk of developing fatigue in their hands. A person who is exposed to continual vibrations at work can also suffer from fatigue and pain. High vibration tools can damage nerves and blood vessels in the fingers and cause discomfort.

Fatigue can also occur because a person has lost the energy or motivation needed to complete a task. There are many benefits to reducing and eliminating hand fatigue. If a person can reduce fatigue, he or she can increase their productivity.

Tired hands.
Tired hands.

There is a link between hand fatigue and repetitive strain injuries. Repetitive strain injuries are quite common among people who use their hands in a repetitive fashion for a prolonged period. To avoid repetitive strain injuries a person should ensure they are using the correct posture and not placing their hands in an awkward position.

When a person starts to experience fatigue, he or she should stop working and allow the hands a chance to rest. Rest periods for the hands are necessary and helpful and can reduce hand fatigue. Frequent breaks reduce both fatigue and possible injury.

A model of a human hand.
A model of a human hand.

There are also a number of exercises and stretches that a person can employ to prevent or reduce hand fatigue. Exercises for this condition generally include wiggling, stretching, and relaxing the fingers and hands. Ergonomics also plays an important role in hand fatigue. In some cases, the hands and wrists are in an awkward position or a person is gripping their hands too tightly. Gripping too tightly can cause tension in the hands, which will lead to fatigue.

Typing can cause hand fatigue.
Typing can cause hand fatigue.

Individuals who suffer from hand fatigue should also consider consulting a doctor. A physician can determine if the fatigue is caused by an underlying medical condition. Doctors can also determine if a person is suffering from a repetitive strain injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Discussion Comments


@ellaferris - I do a lot of hand quilting myself and sometimes experience that tired hand fatigue that you're talking about. What works the best for me is by reminding myself to take frequent breaks.

Sometimes I place an ice pack over the sore hand for a few minutes which really helps too. I've heard other seamstresses wear support gloves or even hand splints to bed to help fight hand fatigue.

I don't know what's the perfect solution but I hope you will continue training your alternate hand and try to remember to take several breaks. Every little bit helps! Good luck.


I am a seamstress and I do a lot of piece work by hand. I am right handed which does all the creative work while my left hand holds onto the item I'm working on.

My left hand has a tendency to want to hold the piece a little too tightly which I think is what is causing the fatigue to occur in my left hand.

I'm training my left hand to do more of the creative work while I use my right hand to hold the item. I have not had much success with this, but I know I have to keep trying.

I fear I may lose the use of my left hand altogether. Does anyone else have this problem? Do you have any advise or solutions on what to do about it?

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    • Tired hands.
      By: juliapankk
      Tired hands.
    • A model of a human hand.
      By: emu
      A model of a human hand.
    • Typing can cause hand fatigue.
      By: strixcode
      Typing can cause hand fatigue.
    • Guitar players often experience hand fatigue.
      By: mekcar
      Guitar players often experience hand fatigue.
    • Those who suffer hand fatigue should consult a doctor.
      By: Shakzu
      Those who suffer hand fatigue should consult a doctor.