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Lower Neck/Upper Back Pain - Machine too low?

Lower Neck/Upper Back Pain - Machine too low?

Old 09-07-2019, 12:50 AM
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Default Lower Neck/Upper Back Pain - Machine too low?

I took a week long break from my quilting projects while planning out Christmas presents - and noticed when I went back to it today, that I was getting some pain at the base of my neck, kind of in between my shoulders (on my back). My Mom has been quilting much longer than me and says it's probably from leaning over so much - but I'm not sure how to remedy this.


Have any of y'all dealt with this kind of pain? Did you remedy it by raising and/or lowering your machine height? Different chair? Shorter period of stitching?


I really do enjoy quilting, but I can't be causing long term back/neck issues like this (I'm already in physical therapy for other joint issues and I'm only 29! )
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:00 AM
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Are you able to adjust the height of your machine so that your elbows bend at 90%? This is the optimum position when you are at an office desk. You also need to be able to sit up and still see what you are doing, so not sure what compromises are needed to achieve this

Also, I believe that your machine should be quite near to the front of the table.

A break once in a while helps. In fact I went to one workshop where the tutor suggested standing with your back up against the wall every so often.

I hope that things improve for you.
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:56 AM
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First....Talk to your doctor. Yes, evaluate the height of tables etc. sounds like your challenges are posture related. Listen to your body and make adjustments that work. I go to my chiropractor every few weeks for a posture adjustment and the “neck crank”....my loving term, btw. I have arthritis in my neck and my adjustments are miracle procedures.
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Old 09-07-2019, 03:46 AM
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Natalia Bonner who is a professional long armer has a YouTube video on the height of her machine that was causing back pain.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:56 AM
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I forgot my posture lessons when sitting at the machine. When I remembered how I was suppose to sit I don't have any more pain. I was jutting my neck out not bending it down. Sit straight and look forward. Then drop your chin to look down. Adjust your table and chair height to this. That is how you are suppose to sew or do any task at a table. Never round your back, sit straight. Looking down not hunched or jutted will save you endless aches and pains. Remember when young when told don't slouch. Do teachers and parents even say that anymore? We weren't allowed to slouch at our desks. Is posture still taught in grade school? Lots of back pain in younger people these days.

Last edited by Onebyone; 09-07-2019 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:21 AM
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Try not to bend forward to see the fabric under the needle. make sure you have lots of light. this helps a great deal on the needle area. Good luck.

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 09-07-2019 at 09:45 AM. Reason: remove negative statement
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:54 AM
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Absolutely have dealt with this and have also remedied it.

1. Elbows should rest comfortably at the table height so that your forearms are at 90 degrees. You should not be reaching up and forward or hunching down to control your work.
2. Lighting, lighting, lighting. I found a great lamp with a swivel neck, multiple brightness levels, and a charging port for my phone.
3. Keep your back straight from the hips to shoulders. Only tilt your chin. c
4. Set a timer to get up and stretch. My favorites for the shoulder blade pain : wall push-ups, shoulder blade squeezes (imagine squeezing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades--hold for 5 sec, repeat 10x). For the neck, sit staight up in a kitchen chair, arms hanging down by seat. Pull your chin back as far as possible (like a turkey) but don't tilt it down. You'll probably hear a little cracking. That feels good! Repeat the turkey neck exercise 10x.
5. My PT says the shoulders are driven by the hips. One exercise is to place your hands above head height on the wall, with feet about 18" from wall, shoulder width apart. Swing your hips side to side as far as you can. 20x.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:16 AM
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I've had neck/back problems for some years now. Mine are controlled by reg chiro visits and learning my limitations. My chiro recommends not sitting in one place to do anything for more than 1/2 at a time. I do that at home and at work and it does seem to help. I get up and move around for a few minutes every 1/2 hour. If I'm doing something intense and can feel the tension mounting I try to work it out and relax more. It's kept me 98% pain free for almost 20 years now.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:24 AM
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When I was younger I didn't notice it so much but lately I can really tell why sewing machine table height is where it is. I'm fine with my piecing, but my ergonomics would be much better if my machine was dropped down about 4 inches while I'm quilting.

I was a word processor earlier in life and have some carpal tunnel problems, and I'm a big believer in proper ergonomics. I know they work for me. I also believe in getting up and moving about every 15 minutes -- that's a big change for me. I used to have my sewing set up so I could sit in my chair and rotate and would sit for hours. Now my cutting board is on the dining room table, the ironing board is in the living room, I do my layout on my queen bed in the bedroom, and the sewing room is in the middle. My house is small and while I do regret a bit being more scattered, the cutting stuff and the ironing board can be folded up and moved out of the way quickly, and I am getting in a lot more steps during the day, and am a lot less "crunkled" in the evening.
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:14 PM
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I have an office chair that I sit at when I quilt at my standard height kitchen table. I, too, had lots of upper back and neck pain but then i read that my chair was too low. I raised it to the highest position and the pain vanished.
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