Monday, March 22, 2010

Ow di bodi?


As we get older (oops!) mature….the mind improves but the body doesn’t….I’m continually hearing and reading about artists who’ve had to give up this or that process because of physical difficulties; I myself am feeling it with significant arthritis in my hands, neck and back so I’m struggling to find answers too. Here are a few I’ve come up with, but if you have any more ideas, please comment!

When you’re machining, keep checking your shoulders – don’t let them ride up around your ears.
Every few minutes deliberately drop and relax them.
Slump to relax your lower back.

Slightly change your angle of attack at the machine so that all the pressure isn’t on the same parts of your neck.

Learn to rotary cut with both hands: dominant and nondominant….
this will equal out wear and tear! Like rotating your tyres!

Also, teach yourself to hand sew with either hand – maybe not so neatly…
but black on black on the back of the quilts? Who’s looking?

When hand sewing stop every 10 minutes or so and stretch your hands and fingers gently as far in, out and sideways as far as they will go…gently!

Also, work your wrists gently: up and down, side to side, and rotating.

Never stay in one position for so long that you get stiff!! You know how long it takes!

Keep changing activities.

Height of the machine: I’ve found that my “best” position is not the one usually recommended so I suggest you experiment with your own body: get a table and a chair that can both be adjusted to different heights and play about with them. Every body is different…what was good for my back was bad for my neck and my neck is worse than my back…so figure out the optimum, it may take a few days of up and down adjustments but just consider it all exercise and we know exercise is good for you!

If you do get all stiffened up, lie on the floor on your side and RELAX…
try to put your mind onto every tight sore place and RELAX it.
Relaxing works better than stretching.

And! Reward yourself for 15 minutes crouched in Machine Position with 5 minutes Lexolous slumped in front of the computer! Good for brain and body!  to say nothing of a nice cuppa tea..which is where I’m headed, so if you have been, thanks for reading!  And relax!   Elizabeth


Terry Grant said...

When I am doing a lot of machine sewing--quilting,especially--I keep a tall glass of ice water next to me and sip between lines of stitching. It helps me relax, keeps me hydrated and finally, forces me to get up and walk down to the bathroom periodically!

Elizabeth Barton said...

hey good move!!! I shall remember that - with tea, of course!

Sandra Wyman said...

getting height of cutting area is important too - I use kitchen units which makes the worktops the right height (bought for a song on ebay). Oh a walk in the fresh air, weather permitting, does wonders for the thought-processes and loosens everything up (as does the gym but that takes more determination!)
Don't forget stretches - imitate your cat - they know the best ways of enjoying life (like get a human slave)

Lynn said...

For the eyes, focus on something distant every 20 minutes or so and use good light.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

I just want to relax like the cat.

Jackie said...

All great ideas! I mean to do some simple yoga exercises my teacher has given me just for me and my body, but when I'm engrossed, I just forget! No wonder I get sore, maintaining one position for a couple hours. I've been considering a kitchen timer to break my concentration audibly, we'll see how that goes. Lynn's idea about changing focal length is helpful for me too. Thank you!

Kathleen Loomis said...

Do not put your ironing surface within reach of your sewing machine unless you need to press every two minutes. Instead, get up and walk to the other place when you need to press.

Elizabeth Barton said...

thank you so much for all the extra ideas in the comments...I will add all the suggestions to the blog in a few days(I'm off to Arizona!). e

Dee / Cloth Company said...

I share the worries about joints and stiffness... in fact, when thinking about my 'golden years', THAT's what I worry about, not money...Good tips! Thank you.

I have sewing tables higher than desk height so that I can use my machines while standing -- it might seem awkward, but it's not. Plus, going to iron from standing is so much easier...

Nellie's Needles said...

This is a wonderful post. Thanks to you and all who have commented.

One of my tricks when doing a lot of hand work is to stretch my fingers by forcing a rubber band outward. This counteracts the "claw-like" position of working the needle and works those little used hand muscles while giving relief to those that are over used.