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BellaOnline's Sewing Editor

In Pain After You Sew?

When I finished sewing last night, I was a wreck. My ankle was throbbing from pressing the pedal and my shoulders were knotted up. My lighting situation at my sewing table isn't the best, so I find myself hunching over my machine, peering into the puddle of light it puts out. When I couldn't take the ankle pain anymore, I looked down and realized that my chair was so low that my ankle was completely folded up while it was pressing on the sewing machine pedal. When I raised the chair up a bit, the pain eased. So, I decided to see what else I can do to improve my sewing situation and I am now passing on what I learned to you in the hopes that it will help you as well.

Do you suffer from pain in your neck or shoulders after you sew? Does your lower back throb after cutting out patterns? How you stand and/or sit while cutting and sewing may be causing injury and inflammation of your muscles and joints, decreasing your enjoyment of an activity that is supposed to bring you pleasure, not pain. Have you ever powered through that niggling twinge in your shoulder or lower back to finish a sewing project and then wondered why your body aches for days afterward? The answer lies in how you hold your body while you cut and sew fabric. It is important that we treat our bodies with care, especially as we age (*cough, cough*) so that we can continue to enjoy the activities and hobbies that we love to do.

ergonomic sewingThese days there is much attention paid to ergonomics in the workplace in the design and arrangement of office equipment with the aim of reducing the incidence of repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis that, if left untreated, can cause permanent nerve damage. The same concepts of ergonomic design used in an office setting can also be applied to arranging your cutting and sewing stations to prevent injury and reduce fatigue. Essentially, you want your knees, elbows, and ankles to be bent at almost 90 degrees while your back and wrists are kept as straight as possible while you are working (like that shown in the image on the left of a computer workstation). You can help your body maintain the optimal posture while sewing by using a chair and work surface that allow for height and other adjustments.

What to Look for in a Sewing Chair

Ergonomic Sewing ChairWhile you are sewing, sit in a swiveling office chair that allows you to adjust the chair height and the angle of both the seat and backrest so that you can customize your seating position. The front of the chair should have what they call a "waterfall" edge that wraps down. The curve of the front edge keeps it from digging into the backs of your knees and compromising your blood circulation. The seat should be shaped to cushion your curves. The task chair shown here would work well as a sewing chair. In fact, I've added it to my wish list. The office chair that I have goes up and down and around, and that's it. It's definitely time for me to upgrade.

Click on Create an Ergonomic Sewing Workspace to learn more.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.

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