Monday, March 1, 2010

Sit up Straight!

Mother was right. Good posture is important, especially when you are using your body in a repetitive motion such as weaving. I know from personal experience how extremely important ergonomics and good body mechanics are.

In 1990, after weaving for 20 years, I ruptured a disc in my lower back. The physicians agreed it was from the repetitive motion of weaving, the lifting of heavy harnesses and twisting associated with throwing the shuttle. So my advice comes from experience.

Here is an article that I wrote for Handwoven Magazine, March April 1993. You can read what I learned and how I made the necessary changes, so that now, 20 years later I am weaving with no pain, no problems and a healthy back. Click on the article and you can read it!

I made two significant changes in my studio after the back injury. I switched to an air dobby, so with the 56" loom I no longer use my legs and lower back to power up the harnesses. You can read more about this system in a March 2009 blog posting.

The other adaptation I made was to have a woodworker friend build me a 60" wide bench with a sliding seat. This bench is magnificent, the seat glides across the width of my loom allowing me to catch and throw shuttles without the twisting ordinarily found in this motion. This was a custom built bench, but with a bit of research, I bet you can find a happy woodworker to make you one!

I also find that a daily practice of some kind of stretching is crucial to maintaining good body health. (I practice yoga.) I LOVE to weave, so I am faithful to the changes I have made. These changes make the difference to me between weaving with a healthy back and not weaving at all. What do you do??

PS~~~ We have had a streak of bad weather here. Lost power for 3 days. The shop is still closed as of today (Mar 1st). So for those of you waiting for quote, info or a response from me...hang in there!


  1. Good post. Important post. I too do yoga everyday. First thing in the morning for 45 minutes before I do anything else (except go to the bathroom.....grin!). I love the sliding bench. I don't really need it, though. When I thread and sley I just keep moving my bench so that I'm more or less straight in front.

  2. I recommend Pilates (mat) classes. After a few months, I find myself easily sitting taller and straighter with no effort.

  3. Very timely post! My 10 year old daughter is crazy about weaving, spinning etc so this subject is very appropriate foe her to digest and begin good posture habits. I'm just recovering from three months of back problems unrelated to weaving but I wanted to share what finally broke the pain cycle. My wife is a registered nurse practitioner but also is heavy into alternatives, reflexology, ME, cranial sacro etc. which we tried with limited success but the second acupuncture person did the trick. Of course I'll start some serious physical rehbab soon to stabilize the whole area. Anyway the best cure is still prevention, but if back pain does reach up and grab you look at all the alternatives you can before you give in to the surgeon's knife.

    One other thing that helped was a TENS machine that consumers can purchase. It used to be only for doc's but it's available for consumers now, that gives some great relief.