Have you ever had something in your life that you loved dearly but caused you pain?

[Insert joke about an ex-partner here, LOL ๐Ÿ˜†]

Sewing! You love sewing, but it can be a source of pain and discomfort if proper sewing ergonomics are not followed.

Sewing ergonomics is the study of how sewing affects the body and how to minimize any negative effects.

This article you will discover:

๐Ÿชก The importance of good sewing posture

๐Ÿชก What an ergonomic setup looks like

๐Ÿชก Techniques for maintaining good posture while sewing

๐Ÿชก Exercises to prevent discomfort and pain

๐Ÿชก Tips for managing sewing-induced pain

OK, grab an ice pack, pop an Advil, and letโ€™s get started.

This post features affiliate links chosen for you. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support! ๐Ÿ’™

Understanding Sewing Ergonomics

In sewing ergonomics, you create a workspace and use sewing supplies in a way that maximizes efficiency while minimizing any negative effects on the body.

Good sewing ergonomics can:

๐Ÿ’ช Prevent pain and injury

๐Ÿ’ช Improve productivity by reducing time spent readjusting the workspace (and body) to find something more comfortable

๐Ÿ’ช Decrease the amount of time spent recovering from pain

And guys, the effects of bad posture and poor ergonomics are numerous (as you might suspect).

This terrible twosome can cause back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and eye strain.

Whatโ€™s more, poor ergonomics can also lead to repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and rotator cuff injuries.

As sewists, we love to make one-of-a-kind garments for our one-of-a-kind, strong, and all-around amazing bodies.

Itโ€™s kinda horrific to think our beloved sewing practice could be twisting us into painful knots! ๐Ÿคฏ 

Tips for Better Sewing Ergonomics

In an ergonomic sewing setup, you have three big elements to consider: the table, the chair, and the lighting.

Sewing Table

A sewing machine that is too high or too low on a sewing table or desk can cause neck and shoulder pain. The table should be at a height where the arms can rest comfortably on the table while sewing.

Sewing Chair

An ergonomic sewing chair is adjustable and has good back support. Its backrest should support the lower back.

The sewing chair should be adjusted so your feet are flat on the floor (use a foot rest if this isnโ€™t available to you) and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.

Lighting for Sewing

Proper lighting for sewing rooms prevents eye strain. If your workspace is too dim, youโ€™re at risk for headaches, blurred vision, and fatigued facial muscles (caused by squinting).

Good Posture in Action

So, what does proper posture while sewing look like?

  • Relaxed shoulders (I struggle with this! My shoulders creep toward my ears.)
  • Straight back
  • Straight (not bent) wrists
  • Elbows close to the body
  • Feet flat on the floor

Check your body against this checklist to see which elements of your sewing space need adjustment.

This illustration, while it shows a woman at a computer and not a sewing machine, gives you a good idea of what good ergonomics looks like, particularly in the arms, wrists, and legs.

Stretching and Exercise for Sewists

Letโ€™s get to the sweet stuff: how to move your body to relieve sewing-related ouchies.

Stretches for the neck, shoulders, back, and wrists can help to prevent injury and pain.

(P.S. The following stretches and whatnot in this article are not medical advice, and you DEFINITELY should get with a doctor for advice on movements and treatments that are best for YOU.)

Neck Pain โžก๏ธ Try tilting the head forward and back and side to side.

Shoulder Pain โžก๏ธ Try bringing the shoulders up to the ears and then relaxing them down.

Back Pain โžก๏ธ Try standing and reaching the arms over the head and then bending forward at the waist.

Wrist Pain โžก๏ธ Try flexing the wrists up and down and side to side.

Yoga poses for sewists include (links go to instruction of the movements):

  • Alternating cat and cow stretches

As a yogi, I can confirm that a little stretch sesh of these poses would feel AH-MAZE-ZING.

How to Manage Sewing-Related Pain

Sewing may seem like a low-impact activity, but it can actually cause a lot of physical strain and discomfort, especially when done for long periods of time and when the motions are repetitive.

Pay attention to your body while sewing. If you start to feel any discomfort, PLEASE take a break!

Common early warning signs of pain and strain include:

  • Tension headaches
  • Eye irritation
  • Sore shoulders and neck
  • Back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or fingers

If you experience pain during sewing sessions, there are a few things you can do to alleviate it:

๐Ÿฉน Take breaks often and switch up your sewing tasks

๐Ÿฉน Stretch regularly

๐Ÿฉน Use heat or ice therapy

๐Ÿฉน As covered above, get your sewing ergonomics in order!

Final Thoughts About Sewing Ergonomics

Good sewing posture and ergonomics can help prevent pain and injury, increase your output (if thatโ€™s important to you), and make your sewing practice overall more enjoyable.

Assess your sewing station to see how you could be sewing smarter to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Over to you, sweet sewing friends: How ergonomic is YOUR sewing studio? Mine could be better, especially when it comes to comfortably placing my arms on the sewing table. Please leave a comment, and thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ’™