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Thread: Help I can't machine sew for long because of upper back discomfort

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Australia in the hot dry part

    Help I can't machine sew for long because of upper back discomfort

    Hello everyone,
    Iím looking for a advice, I am 67 and have taken up sewing quilts again but I am finding I have a huge problem with my upper back/shoulder blades area. After sitting at the sewing machine for periods of time, my upper back is painful and I feel like I have a stretched muscle, and it is impossible to sit and sew as it is so painful. I donít have vertebrae problems, nor any back problems, the stretched feeling seems to come from beneath the right shoulder blade, and spreads out across in this area, it is so uncomfortable I cannot carry on sewing. I also find it impossible to sit up straight and lean back into the back support of my chair. when I sew, I have to ďhunchĒ at the sewing machine.
    I sew for short periods, after half an hour I get up and walk around.
    I have door stops wedged under the back of the sewing machine to tilt it forward, but I still need to hunch forward to sew.
    What type of chair do you have? Is there a special design with a chair?
    I also purchased the Mesh Lumbar Back Support to attach to the back of my chair. It is great for the car or sitting at the computer but of no use when at the sewing machine, because I have to still hunch forward so get no benefit from having a lumbar support on the back of the chair when at the sewing machine. .>>
    Advice would be appreciated? Has your physio given you any exercises tips for when sitting at the sewing machine? I can only put this down to ageing as I have no other back problems at all apart from this which interferes with my sewing time!
    Anna Australia

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Salt Lake City area
    The key to comfort at any sitting task is to make sure you're at the correct height. I get the same kind of issue when I work on a laptop at a table rather than a desk. Make sure your forearms are at a 90 degree angle to your upper arms when you're sewing. Hopefully you have a chair with adjustable height so adjust it appropriately. Also make sure you are sitting directly in front of your machine. Occasionally I've seen sewing cabinets where the machine is off to the side a bit - they always looked like pain to me!


  3. #3
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Elbows bent at 90ļ, shoulders relaxed, machine bed slightly lower than your outstretched hands, and sit directly facing the needle. A pillow behind the small of your back can be a great help as well...as is getting up and moving around every so often.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  4. #4
    Super Member sewwhat85's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    i would check the height of your table and the height of your chair

  5. #5
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Upland CA
    I also think it could be the height of your sewing table and the chair.

  6. #6
    Senior Member IAmCatOwned's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    In my case, it is caused by a table that is too low. It is not the chair. If you look at yourself sewing in a mirror, you are hunched over which is why you are in pain. Raise your table and I'm sure it will improve. Did for me.

  7. #7
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Behind my sewing machine
    Blog Entries
    besure to get up and move around often...do little chores - like laundry, dishes, lots of cleaning breaks...you will be moving and getting the house clean at the same time...move those muscles....also try moving your foot petal. Some say using a book under it helps or a different position. How about a board to lift you chair height or you may want to put a few boards under you table...not sure if you need it higher or lower. Before you go out an buy a new chair or table find out the problem first.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Sewing Joe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    New Albany, Indiana
    Put your ironing board on the other side of the room, so you have to get up fairly often. Someone gave me this hint years ago, and it sure helps my back.
    Joe in New Albany, IN

  9. #9
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Emmitsburg, MD
    Are you sure you don't need new eyeglasses?

  10. #10
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Central Iowa
    Blog Entries
    maybe you need a better adjustable chair

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