Tips For Sewing Without Harming Your Back

Grandma was right! Slouching is bad for you. And poor posture can make back pain worse, especially if you sit for long periods! Yes, that unwanted, uncalled, unsearched, but so common pain may appear after hunching for some time in front of the sewing machine. Once the pain begins, there is little sewing we can do, back becomes stiff and the pain can go up the neck and shoulders. How many of you have had to leave your sewing room overwhelmed by a headache? Total disaster? Maybe, but there is hope. Today I will give you some tips for sewing without harming your back.

If you sew daily or weekly, you probably spend quite a few hours with your machine and know what I’m talking about. The problem is we usually are so focused in our project that we forget to take care of our body. In an extreme situation, this could even result in a herniated disc.

After making a bit of catharsis, now comes the good news, as our fitness expert has told us, with a good posture and some basic exercises you can avoid bad habits and future injuries. The only requirement is to be constant.

Based on his wisdom and his understanding of the body and injuries, we have prepared a small list, a summary of the things you should be aware of to take care of your body and keep it healthy and in good condition for many years. If any of the following guidelines causes an increase of pain or spreading of pain to the legs, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist.

1. Be self-conscious of your body

This is harder than it sounds, but it is the most important step of all. But what does it mean to be self-conscious of your body? Simply know what you are doing with your body at all times. Feel it, control it at all times, think about the positions you adopt. Not easy, right? This requires practice and patience, and it it is very easy to lose track of the body when concentrating on an activity such as sewing. Therefore, until you get used to maintaining the correct postures, you should anticipate that you will be slacking off. To counterattack this, place a sign or post-it, an alarm that warns you frequently to check your position, someone who can monitor and warn you when you forget…

Remember to keep your back and neck straight so as not to end up like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Keep your abs and lumbar holding your weight instead of carrying it on the table.

Source: Dr. Posture

2. Adapt the furniture

Fortunately, neither the furniture is glued to the floor nor the machine is attached to the table. It is more about organizing the work environment to facilitate good postures, and less about adapting to the furniture adopting impossible positions.

For example: bring closer the machine to you, do not have the pedal too far, think of getting a table that allows you to regulate the height and inclination (like the ones artists use). And very important: choose a suitable seat. Although it seems strange, the seats with backrest are more enemies than allies in this task. A stool can be the smartest solution.

3. Exercise and stretching

Do not rest an achy back. Doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain. But now we know that lying still is one of the worst things you can do. It can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. It’s important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try swimming, walking, or yoga. 

Think that we are talking about your health, your body, the place where you will spend the rest of your life. Before and after the sewing session, let’s do some stretching and simple exercises to help avoid future aches and pains.

Source: Health-Flash

4. Make breaks

The exercises are not only good for before and after. If the sewing session is going to be a long one, it would be great that you take breaks from time to time. And during those breaks, you can also do some stretches. You can also use some time counting system, such as setting an alarm on your mobile or kitchen clock.

Depending on your resistance, how delicate your back is, the ability you have controlling the posture, select your optimal working time between resting times. Every half hour, every forty minutes, every hour … Find where the right limit is for you.

5. Take care of the lighting

Not only the back is affected by bad sewing habits. Sewing with bad lighting will force us to look too hard, which necessarily brings us a nice headache as a gift.

Although sewing machines already incorporate “hot spot” lighting, sometimes we need a complementary light spot for the worst-lit areas. The best is natural light, but if you do not have it, place a cold light bulb, which reduces headaches, or a LED lamp.

Follow these tips to sew being aware of your body and the environment and you will see how you stop being crushed and sore after sewing.

Does your back bother you when sewing? 

7 thoughts on “Tips For Sewing Without Harming Your Back

  1. I have a terrible slouch and back pain from slouching in front a computer for most of the day. The shoulder’s back position is so much better but I need to put in practice to make that my natural posture all the time and take more breaks.
    The idea of standing desks is also catching on. What do you think of creating that kind of work station for sewing too?


    1. Hi TMP, I love your idea of standing desks. I am seeing my physical therapists this week, so I have already put the alarm to ask him about it and if it could be applied to sewing. Will get back to you with his comments 😉


  2. I’ve started trying to stand whenever I’m not actually using the machine. So I stand at my ironing board to pin things together, mark fabric, etc. I feel like it helps a lot. I also do pilates 3-4 times a week (which uses all of the stretches you’ve mentioned).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Ann! I am looking into standing desks, have to ask my physical therapist about it, will talk about it soon in future posts! 🙂


  3. This was really well written; I especially liked the diagram of back exercises. I’ve been sewing since I was 7 years-old and I’m now 62, but I can always learn something new and perfect my technique.
    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello 🙂 I am new to the Stitchery Academy and your Facebook group and relatively new to sewing. Now this might sound like a silly question: how can you sew at a standing desk? I actually have a problem with standing. Diagnosed with sciatica 4 years ago. So my solution is to sew for a bit then walk for a bit. I now have a mini routine when I stretch while waiting for the kettle to boil or the iron to heat up. It works for me.


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