I hate to admit that quilting can be painful. Joint and muscle pains are a natural consequence from being in one position for too long. Over the past several days of working on a king-size quilt on my longarm, I remembered to take many breaks to stretch my back. Here are some resources with exercises for quilters to use as a quick reference guide. I am NOT a doctor so please consult your own physician for specific complaints.
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Stretch every day
Have you ever been to an aerobics class? There are some basic stretches that come to mind from the good ole days when I went to Jazzercise several times a week. I work my way from head to toe with neck stretches (ear to shoulder), torso twists and ankle rotations.
Grab some simple equipment
I have found relief for specific back pain from a chiropractor. An at-home exercise she recommended was laying on a tennis ball. I use it for both my shoulder and my sciatic nerve. You can see a good description of the technique on this page.
Remember, the goal is to find a balance. If I have been looking to the left as I guide my longarm over a pantograph, I focus on stretching to the right. If I have been hunched forward, I spread my arms and lean backwards. An exercise ball is a great tool. Some quilters even sew while sitting on one! I simply lay back on mine for about five minutes to relax my torso.
In addition to stretching, keep your body moving! I cannot stand at the longarm for more than an hour, so I set a timer which reminds me when to switch activities. With several projects going at once, it is never hard to move to the next task! If I am piecing at my small machine, I have a steady rotation between the cutting table, sewing space and ironing board. These small changes in position throughout the day make a huge difference by the evening.
Since I don’t have the money for a gym membership at the moment, I am taking advantage of the free option in my neighborhood – a walk around the block. Several blocks, actually, since I have a route that is a little over a mile long. I drag my husband along and it’s becoming a nightly ritual that gives us some time to converse rather than stare at separate screens. Speaking of technology, are you a Fitbit wearer? There are many tracking devices and apps to encourage you to get your steps in! What are some of your favorites? Please share in the comments!
Let’s stay happy and healthy by doing some stretches and exercises every day!