Last weekend, I was invited down to Hepburn Springs to massage some of the ladies on the Goldfields Quilters Group retreat. What a great idea to get away from it all and just spend 48 hours doing something you love passionately in the company of fellow devotees.
And what a great initiative to invite a massage therapist to the house to ease some of those sore muscles being overworked over the weekend.
It got me thinking about people who love crafty activities – knitting, sewing, crocheting, embroidery, quilting – and some of the issues they have come to me with over the years.
The thing is, like any social activity with repeated movements, doing something for a concentrated period of time can lead to strain on muscles and joints, whether it’s a competitive sport or a solo hobby like embroidery or knitting.
I once treated a lady who crocheted for many hours every day. She came to me with wrist pain and was finding she simply couldn’t carry on for such long periods of continual craft work.
She had actually displaced one of her wrist bones from repeating the same specific movement of her hand over and over again for hours at a time. So, as well as fixing the problem she had, we had to come to an agreement that she would cut the time she would spend crocheting without a break.
Others have come with early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome as repeated movements using the same joint have caused swelling and narrowing of the passage through which vital tendons and nerves need to pass.
But most common of all with crafty people is general shoulder tightness, often from holding the needles or material they are working with for lengthy periods of time, and a regular massage is perfect for most of these.
Time is often the key to recovery. But by time, I mean keeping to a minimum the length of time spent continuously knitting or crocheting etc, and making sure there are regular breaks.
Posture and ergonomics can also be important. I was too busy down in Hepburn Springs to go round and assess the working position of the ladies at the retreat, but I imagine that some of those sore shoulders and arms might have been alleviated with some advice on body positioning while at work.
One new thing did cross my mind over the weekend, though. We tend to focus on neck, shoulders, arms and back for most crafting people. But one lady had two very different calves and I wondered why her right calf should be so much more developed than her left. She reminded me that some crafts – spinning and sewing in particular – also involve use of one foot (or ankle). It wasn’t causing her problems, but it did make me aware that the lower limbs should not be ignored in treating crafty types.
It’s always good to learn.
And wow my best learning of the weekend was to see how fantastic some of the quilts were that these ladies were producing. Thanks for asking me along!