Back in the day (as a new quilter), I got real excited about setting up my sewing work space. I didn’t trust my instincts (and I had already mastered the art of buying quilting books), so I bought the latest title on the topic. I devoured that book, studying every picture and reading every word. I set up my sewing space just like the author suggested. I really liked how productive I could be in my little sewing station, everything within reach…until I started to hurt.
The more I sewed, the less I liked it. I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the suggestions for optimum quilting output. It just didn’t work for me.
Now, I tend to keep lots of tension in my shoulders and upper back. Improper chair height, table height, poor posture (very me) are all contributing factors for tension in the upper back area. But I had noticed some changes in the lower half of my body, too. Maybe it was just the aging process–or was I just sitting on my backside too much?
Step One: Move that iron across the room.
I may lose a few minutes of stitching time walking to and from my ironing board, but that’s okay because that little walk gives me a chance to reach up, stretch backwards and roll my shoulders. Sometimes that’s all it takes to keep me from stiffening up over a day of stitching. I no longer have everything within reach. It’s a different mind-set, really. Now I try to think of the extra movement as a chance to move instead of wasted time.
Step Two: Creative Movement.
Whether you are getting up to press seams, cut fabric, or grab lunch, try to throw in some steps you don’t normally do. How about a side-to-side step? Or step-touch (like walking down the aisle for a wedding). Sometimes when I am loading a quilt on my long-arm, I move from one end to the other by doing small plies or squats. Now I’m not talking about deep, hurt-your-knees- or-lose-your-balance kind of movements, but small movements that wake your body up and warm up some cold muscles.
If you like creative movement, take a look at this set of dvd’s: Body Groove. I’ve only had mine a week and I love them. I can’t say it’s a hard work out, but it’s sooooo enjoyable and freeing that I look forward to that time every day! These are simple movements to music (not aerobics) that you do at your own ability level.
Steps Eight to Ten Thousand: Turn on the tracker.
As much as I talk back to my Fitbit some days when it fusses at me to move, it really helps me to realize how sedentary my life can be. Your phone may work to track your steps, also. The down side to tracking steps is when you forget to take your tracker off it’s charger and feel like you’ve wasted all of those steps you took (crazy)! I have been known to drive back home for my Fitbit prior to line dancing! Here is a link to Fitbit.
Stitch One, Curl One…or something like that.
I keep a small free weight (a full water bottle works, too) near me so that when I take a break I can do a few bicep curls, shoulder presses, or tricep curls just to keep the blood moving and my muscles awake. I feel like my brain works better, too, when I am more aware of my whole body while I’m stitching.
How do you stitch pain-free? Do you have exercises to recommend? Special chairs or tools? Please share in the comments below.
Please keep in mind that I am a quilter, not a doctor or trainer. Please don’t hurt yourself. Seek medical advise before starting any exercise program.
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