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Thread: Back pain

  1. #1
    Senior Member diannemc's Avatar
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    Is it just me or does every sewer deal with it...Right between my shoulder blades... :cry: I can't sit at the machine for long..I have to spend days on heating pad...I use to sew heirloom children clothes for a store several years ago..I would sew day and night.. That is when it started...My last job was sitting at a computer eight hours a day...What is good for a back ache!!! When I stretch and exercise it gets worst..Now that I am home all day and can sew all day I can't! Help!

  2. #2
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    Have you tried using a balance ball as a chair instead? I don't know how practical that would be for sewing but I know many people who've gotten great relief that way.

    I have pain in my lower back after sitting too long at my sewing machine. I use heat therapy patches that I get at teh Dollar Tree - they're just mentholatem (sp?) on a patch but they do make it feel better.

    I've seen pictures where women have propped up their machines with door stops to help avoid hunched shoulders. However, the pictures always show them putting the stops in the back so that machine tilts toward them. That would make me hunch more. I'd rather have it tilt away from me so that I can more easily see the sewing area.

  3. #3
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    Have you tried visiting a chiropractor? (for starters)

    I've found that a good one does wonders.

    Have you checked the heights of your sewing machine table, your chair, etc.?

    Is your lighting decent?

    Might there be something else wrong with you?

    I, too, get that pain/tightness/ache between my shoulder blades if I try to sew for long periods of time. The simple solution is to vary the tasks - cut for a while, sew for a while, press for a while, pet the cat for a while, find something to eat, etc.

    If it's fairly achy, I take a couple of aspirin and that usually takes care of it.




  4. #4
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    I know exactly what you are talking about. This is what works for me. I have a pilates resistance band and when my back gets like that I use the resistance band. I pull in a few times ( directions come with them) and the pain gets better. I don't know what posessd me to try it one day but it really works. I think it must stretch out the muscles that are all tight yet it is not the same as regular exercising and stretching. Pilates is different.

  5. #5
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I have a set of Miracle Balls. I lay on the floor and put one under that spot between my shoulder blades. After about 10 to 15 minutes the pain will be gone.

    You can get them on Amazon.

  6. #6
    Super Member dglvr's Avatar
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    Hi. I'm sorry to hear about your back giving you such fits. I know I have alot of back problems myself. I have 4 herniated discs from my tail bone up. When I sew to long my upper back starts to get soar as well. My mom told me to try Aleve. So before I start sewing I take 2 Aleves and really concentrate on how I sit. I make sure not to sit and sew to long.
    I put my ironing board across the room so I have to get up and move around alot. The Aleve does seem to help. I have actual pain pills but I really can't concentrate and sew after taking them. So give the Aleves a try and see what you think.. I really think it help me alot.
    Also after I sew awhile I'll lay flat and elevate my legs and relax for about
    a 1/2 hour. That really helps too.
    Good luck. Hope you feel better.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diannemc
    Is it just me or does every sewer deal with it...Right between my shoulder blades... :cry: I can't sit at the machine for long..I have to spend days on heating pad...I use to sew heirloom children clothes for a store several years ago..I would sew day and night.. That is when it started...My last job was sitting at a computer eight hours a day...What is good for a back ache!!! When I stretch and exercise it gets worst..Now that I am home all day and can sew all day I can't! Help!
    BTDT. Here's what I found.

    The pain between the shoulder blades is from incorrect chair/work height relationships. I do better when my chair is as high as it can go and still get my knees under the sewing cabinet.

    I do not get the pain between the shoulder blades at all if I sew standing up. In fact, that is how I do all of my machine quilting. I place the sewing machine on my cutting table, which is the correct height for me -- about 3-1/4 inches below my belly button. It's important to stand on a soft, resilient surface to prevent other foot and back problems so, if you have a hard surface, get a mat. My sewing machine pedal cord is just long enough to sit on the floor. Before I quilt my next quilt, I am going to build this inexpensive sewing machine table to go around my machine:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g14govA4pIM

    I, personally, will never machine quilt sitting down again. Standing up, I can quilt much longer without fatigue and I never get the shoulder blade problem.

    An MRI of my back showed a lot of degenerative problems, so my doctor sent me to a clinic that specializes in neck and back pain. There they told me *never* to use heat on my back -- only cold packs. They said that cold packs reduce the inflammation. They also put me through some strenuous incremental exercises on special machines that target the muscles associated with the back and spine. I went through that program several years ago and have never had back pain since. This is after suffering off and on with minor, moderate and severe back pain for almost 30 years. They strengthened the right muscles for me.

    If stretching and exercise make the pain worse, it means you are either not doing the correct exercises or not doing the exercises correctly. Correct stretching and strengthening of the right muscles will make a lot of common back pain problems go away. However, I could never have achieved this on my own. Aside from being somewhat exercise-phobic, I just do not have a good sense of where body parts are in time and space. It is very easy for people like me to do an exercise incorrectly -- even stretching.

    Meanwhile, though, try sewing at the machine standing up. I think you will be amazed at how much easier it is on the back.


  8. #8
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    Someone mentioned the door stops. I purchased a platform from Nancy's Notions that Tilts my whole machine forward. I don't know how I sewed without it. It even has a hole to allow for the kneebar on my Bernina. The other thing I have done is have my husband cut the legs off of my sewing table so that they are just the right heights that my arms are level with the sewing surface when they are bent at 45 degrees at the elbow. Since the presserfoot is several inches off of the floor and you rest your whole foot on it to operate it. I also have a plastic box the same thickness that I rest my other foot on when I am sewing. I also puchased an office chair from Office Depot or Staples that is adjustable. All of those things make sewing much more comfortable and do less damage to the back.
    I have made myself an ironing surface out of a kitchen island on wheels. I placed a 1/2 of a quarter sheet of plywood on top that I covered with batting and a teflon sheet and then muslin. It makes a great ironing surface. With the addition of a cutting mat I can cut on it also. I find that I tend to over reach both when cutting and ironing because of the larger surface. That is where I usually get the pain. You can make any surface a more comfortable height by using those bed risers they sell in Walmart or other stores.

  9. #9
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    My grandmother sewed sitting on a tall three leg stool. That's how I learn to sit sewing. I had to sit very straight, not hunch or lean or the stool would tip over. If I got another chair she said my back would give out and I'd be crooked for life and the easy chair was for slouching not the sewing chair. I guess she knew what she was talking about.

  10. #10
    Senior Member diannemc's Avatar
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    I know this is going to sound dumb.. But is sitting to low what makes you slump and hurt back or when sitting too high...
    When I went to doctor with it he said I need to raise my computer on a book cause my chair was probably too high...I feel like I am sitting ok ? who knows my just be years of day after day of sewing..It got better when I quit sewing for awhile but when started work sitting at computer it was worst...Thanks everyone...quess I will sewing alittle and get up and do something else...I can't sit at church for very long and forget sitting at ball games where there is no backs at all...Guess on of those aches and pains I will have to live with...

  11. #11
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    i have had numerous shoulder injuries from years of competitive sports and can easily suffer pain when i push to hard.

    i sew about 3-4 hours a day 6 days a week and i've had this schedule for about 8 years.

    i have my sewing platform high in relation to where my bottom sits in the chair. i also have a lengthy and wide sewing platform.

    i believe by having this set up i don't have to hunch down and forward to see my work, my shoulders aren't over extended, and i'm able to have my forearms fully supported - thereby taking some of the pressure off the shoulders and back.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Here's a website that shows proper chair height for sewing and other tasks:

    http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/sewi...iondesign.html

    My machine is set into a cabinet. I have found that raising my chair as far as possible to allow my legs to fit under the machine results in my forearms being even with the table surface. That is basically what the OSHA site is recommending. It doesn't allow me to sew for 6 or 8 hours daily, but it does extend the amount of time I can spend sewing without waking up stiff and sore the next day. I could not quilt sitting down for more than 2 hours a day or so; standing up I can quilt twice that and still quilt the next day.

  13. #13
    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    I too get that if I don't walk away every so often. I get too involved.

    My years at a drafting board, until I could adjust the thing at a very sever angle did the same thing. I think it has to do with posture ( hunch ) ..

    Good luck !

  14. #14
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    The sharp pain between the shoulder blades sends me to the Chiropractor. The dull pain in my lower back sends me to the freezer. Ice works better for me than heat. Sometimes I use the medicated pads to help with the pain.

    .....and excercise DOES help. It takes a bit for the body to adjust.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  15. #15
    Power Poster sewnsewer2's Avatar
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    I like thermacare pads. They are fantastic and really loosen your muscles.

  16. #16
    Senior Member diannemc's Avatar
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    Wow thanks Prism99!! what a great website! Wish I had seen this years ago...By the looks of this I am sitting too low!!! My arms hang off the table....there is alot of things I have been doing wrong...Thanks everyone..going to get some of those pads to out on back too...

  17. #17
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    Being 5'2" and having a back that goes out more often than I do, I find that by putting 2 rubber door stops behind my machine to tilt it forward, a book about 3" thick under the foot control, and a 5" book under my left foot, I can sew for hours.


    This was the only way I could quilt a QS quilt for my 18 year old grandson. Having mild asperges he doesn't show a lot of emotion as a rule, but the look on his face, the tears in his eyes, and the hug, as well as not being able to stop saying "Thank You Nanna", made it all worthwhile.

  18. #18

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    Check your body alignment at your machine. Arms should be bent at a 45 degree at the elbow. Get a good chair with lumbar support and adjustment. Office supply stores have some good ones at a decent price. Another thing, move often. I have my ironing board on the opposite side of the room which forces me to get up and walk. These pains also happen to computer users. The body was made to move and work. The few seconds you loose by not pressing at the machine will pay back with feeling better in the long run.
    I learned the hard way after an auto accident. We sew better when we feel better. Take care. :thumbup:

  19. #19
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    i go thru that too. every so often i have to stop and move around. i find as i concentrate on sewing i must stiffen up

  20. #20
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    You might want to go over the ergonomics of your sewing area.

    I once took a quilting class by Harriet Hargrave and she spent quite a while at the beginning of the 2 day class on proper ergonomics. I was so impressed that when I got home I reviewed my sewing area. I went to a good office furniture store and luckily found the Herman Miller airlon [?spelling] chair didn't feel good with my body. I ended up getting a funny stool that is height adjustable and feels like I am sitting on a balance ball ... it almost forces me to sit properly. Well worth the cost.

    alice

  21. #21
    Super Member Pzazz's Avatar
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    My hubbys' fingers also work wonders!! ;) After a car accident several years ago, I have had to MAKE myself get up and move away from the machine. Someone suggested sew some, iron some, leave for a bit, etc., and that really does work well. Hope you find a solution that works for YOU.

  22. #22
    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    I like thermacare pads. They are fantastic and really loosen your muscles.
    I live with those !! I use the shoulder ones on my calves.. My legs scream at me during night. 8 dollar a box, you get three. it is more expensive than Pain Pills but I do not want to live on Pain pills.

    ^5 GREAT IDEA !!!

  23. #23
    Member Emma Gunawan's Avatar
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    Hello, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. I also have 2 herniated discs from my back bones and can not stand to sit to long for sewing machine or computer. What is ALEVES? Is it a pain relieve medicine? You're right pain killer pills make your pain muscles relax, but you cannot concentrate (tend to sleep??). Thanks. :D

  24. #24
    Super Member Quiltgranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kluedesigns
    i have had numerous shoulder injuries from years of competitive sports and can easily suffer pain when i push to hard.

    i sew about 3-4 hours a day 6 days a week and i've had this schedule for about 8 years.

    i have my sewing platform high in relation to where my bottom sits in the chair. i also have a lengthy and wide sewing platform.

    i believe by having this set up i don't have to hunch down and forward to see my work, my shoulders aren't over extended, and i'm able to have my forearms fully supported - thereby taking some of the pressure off the shoulders and back.
    Have you ever shared a pic of your sewing platform? I'd sure love to see this, as I have been struggling with finding the correct table height for myself, too. Thanks, Klue.

    Happy sewing,

  25. #25
    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    wow ! tilting just like a drafting board.. interesting.. I can see this helping !

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