Friday, May 22, 2015

Preventing Sewing Related Injuries

How often have we, as seamstresses, had to take a rest from sewing due to injury....from sewing?  For such a seemingly quiet activity that sewing exudes, over time it can be quite harmful to our muscles, tendons and ligaments. Proper ergonomics is key to protecting our ability to sew. A great resource that I highly recommend is Rx for Quilters: Stitcher-Friendly Advice for Every Body by Susan Delaney Mech, M.D. Even though the title says it's for quilters, it's applicable to anyone who sews whether it be historical clothing, modern clothing, home decor, crafts, etc, etc, etc.

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Several years ago I saw this author and her book featured on Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson on HGTV (those were the days!)  The author is a quilter herself, as well as a doctor, so she knows first hand what treachery our bodies can be tormented with when we engage in such a seemingly simple task as manipulating needle and fabric. Soon after I saw the show, I bought the book.

One of the things I have learned, not only from the book, but also from physical therapists, is that our bodies are designed to move. To keep our bodies at their healthiest, we must keep moving them. As much as I am content to quietly sit and stitch, it is to my benefit to be interrupted by telephones, door bells, washing machines and dryers, and numerous other errands and tasks.  Breaking my large chunks of sewing into smaller chunks is the most beneficial thing I can do for my health.  Even keeping the sewing  machine and ironing board in separate rooms creates greater efficiency, since it results in muscle stretching opportunities. I even do my hand sewing, patterning, and pinning in a room separate from the sewing machine and ironing board which provides more opportunity to stretch and relieve my cramped muscles.  I've been to the doctor often enough for a bad back...which has resulted in physical therapy...which has led to these new goals in the last few years to move more.

I hope this book helps others who are struggling with sewing related injuries.

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I saw this you tube video go through my fb newsfeed today where acclaimed seamstress Nancy Zieman interviews a medical expert on carpal tunnel syndrome.  Along with other things, they emphasize the need to take breaks from repetitive motion.

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