In our previous blog, “Is your art/craft the secret to a healthier life?” we shared information about the benefits of diving into your craft. While there are many, there are also some hazards we’d like to help you avoid. Regardless of your age, it is important to consider ergonomics and be sure to have a comfortable work environment so you can enjoy your work or art pain free for hours at a time and for many years to come.
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. This may seem straightforward, but there are many factors involved in ergonomics; it’s not just about posture. The most commonly affected areas for aches and pains are the neck, back, shoulders, wrists and hands (2). Early symptoms like dull aches and discomfort, if ignored, can become persistent and more serious. Whether you spend just an hour on your art/activity, or several hours, you will benefit from considering these important factors:
Many artists spend a majority of their day sitting, so having a proper chair that is adjustable, swivels, and allows you to place your feet flat on the floor is best (3). If you’re planning to buy a new chair, test several and go through the motions you would when working to see how it works. Adjustable armrests take an enormous amount of pressure off of your shoulders. Remember, no slouching!
Work surface is also something that should be considered. It is recommended that you create a work area that forms a circle; the more a tool or supply is used, the closer it should be to your reach. This helps reduce strain by promoting proper posture (3).
Hand pain is caused by repetitive motion and is often treated with pain medications or thermotherapy, but rather than treating it, it’s best if you can prevent it before it starts. Reducing or eliminating hand pain can come from taking breaks, wearing stress-relief gloves, doing some simple exercises and paying more attention to your posture (4).
Using the proper tools can greatly help reduce tension and therefore aches and pains; while each art or craft has its own tools of the trade, all of them should be accompanied by proper eyewear and good lighting.
Wearing proper full strength glasses (distance plus reading correction) is essential to help avoid eye strain. However, in addition to your glasses, many people find using some sort of magnification tool greatly reduces eye strain. Devices like CraftOptics enable artists to sit upright and maintain excellent posture while still seeing the fine details of their work.
Proper lighting is also critical to healthy artistry and crafting; it not only helps you avoid mistakes and accurately match colors, but it also helps you avoid painful eye strain and maintain proper posture.
There are many techniques and products people use to relieve their discomfort when doing their craft or art. No matter which ones you use, continue to pay attention to your work environment and how you feel. Proper ergonomics will allow you to continue doing what you love for hours at a time without discomfort.
Mary Zinn is a regular contributor to the CraftOptics blog.