A question we're asked very often - the answer is only if you let it be!
When you are working with either cane or rush the material is damp, so if your skin is sensitive, then you may find that some areas of your hands can become a bit sore. The answer is not to overdo it, do all things in moderation. A hand cream/moisture barrier will help to prevent chapping and friction damage, so it's well worth considering investing in a good brand if you know you have sensitive skin. Gloves are another option, but I find that I can't work with them on and the latex or vinyl types can cause more allergy and sweaty skin problems than they solve. Cotton gloves are good, but of course they will get wet and grubby so are not really an option.
When you are doing rush work, depending on how you put the strain on the cord, you might notice a sore pressure point on the little finger side of your working hand. We know of quite a few full time rush workers who have made themselves a leather half glove/brace with a pad that covers the pressure point - it works well, but as I said before, it's easier to stop working and rest your hands than to carry on regardless and suffer for longer than you need to. Do yourself a favour, take a break, do something different for a while, have a cup of tea!
The most important thing to watch out for if you do a lot of hand work of any description is carpal tunnel syndrome. This is when the tunnel carrying the main nerves to the hand becomes narrow, causes pain and can make the hand "claw" in. It's a condition that is not unique to weaving - any repetitive action like typing or sewing can cause the problem. To avoid putting yourself at risk, try to vary the way that you clasp, pull, place and hold materials - variety is the spice of life! By doing this you will minimise the possibility of causing "clawing" as well as other potential problems like repetitive stress injury and rheumatism. I have found that glucosamine gel helps my hands when they are tired, but that is very much a personal thing.
So, is weaving cane or rush hard on your hands? NO, provided you are sensible and respect your most important tools - your hands.
My hands - they've served me well! The nails are very useful caning tools.