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getting rid of shaky hands during cell culture/pipetting - (May/08/2006 )

Hi! I'm an undergrad student taking on a summer research project in a big molecular bio lab. i also worked in a lab last summer and have found that I have very shaky hands when using the large pipettor when doing tissue/cell culture... this makes it hard to use sterile technique since I keep touching the edges of the flasks, etc. and then have to change pipettes all the time. does anyone have any suggestions on how to improve my steadiness? p.s. i don't drink coffee so it's not that. Thanks!


I was the same way ... not to mention ... accident prone (I still am). The best advice I can give is to practice practice practice. Maybe try working with water for a little bit before you work with the cells ... just to get your confidence up ... if you are working with something you aren't worried about hurting or messing up you will be able to concentrate on technique and on getting yourself into a comfortable rhythm. Just don't let yourself get too stressed out about it ... that will just exaggerate the problem. Stay calm relax and keep trying ... you'll get your hands to behave.


don't skip breakfast wink.gif

low blood sugar doesn't help that problem, either


avoid methyl xanthines (cafeine, theine....)


Don't be to worried about it: It get's better with practice.
And if you get nervous because somebody is watching you pipetting, just tell them. You'd be surprised how many people have this kind of problem.

Can't you put your ellbow on the ground while pipetting? It helps... smile.gif


Or try chewing gum if allowed in the lab. It occupies your nerves...


As fred_333 said, avoid caffeine. If I don't drink coffee, it makes my hands little shaky but don't worry you are not the only one who has this issue so don't worry and try to do your best smile.gif

-Jiang M-

since you eliminated the coffee thing yourself, then I agree with nerves- especially if someone else is watching. I've been doing this for 7 years and as soon as someone is looking over my shoulder I get the wobbles really badly!!! I try to listen to my mp3 player in the lab, the music keeps me relaxed...

I think once you're in the routine of it, you'll be fine. No one expects super-pipetting hands from someone that hasn't done much before smile.gif


Relax, It happened when we all got started. Just keep concentrating on pipetting and dont think about anyone or anything that might stress. Keep practising and it will be fine with time.


I agree with everybody else. Don't skip breakfast, no coffee or soda's.
And a lot of practice. Again nerves are not good either...

On the other hand. I know somebody who's been working in the lab for almost 10 years and still has shaky hands. Not because of nerves or anything like that. That's just the way he works. He's learned to deal with it. I mean it's not that bad that he touches every thing, but if he needs to pipet in to something it takes a lot of concentration to with shakeing get it in the right well. He learned to deal with it.. And you will to after all these tips.
I must say, I had it to, especially in the beginning or when people are looking over my shoulders I still have it.. It seems silly, but a lot of people have it or have had it.
Good luck..