My grandmother was a quilter, and my mother is a quilter. The work these women and many others create is incredibly beautiful art that also is functional on a cold winter night.
Quilters often have aches and pains, but they continue on with their diligent work as a labor of love. They ignore the pain until they can ignore it no longer. Quilters and many other artisans create their treasures in front of them, in their laps. This posture and position requires them to protrude their head forward and to bend forward while they work.
For example, cross-stitch and embroidery require long hours of this posture, which also requires artisans to lower their heads to see the activity they are performing.
It is this sustained posture of the cervical spine, neck and head that creates mechanical stresses. When the head is protruded forward, it causes the lower part of the neck to bend forward and the upper part of the neck to bend backward. This sustained posture causes stress or compression to the surrounding soft tissues that may produce and refer pain into the shoulder blade, the shoulder, the upper arm and even as far away as tingling in the fingers.
We often hear from friends and colleagues and read on the Internet that the tingling in the fingers may be from carpal tunnel syndrome, compression of the ulnar nerve in the elbow our funny bone, a shoulder strain, or a rotator cuff tear. And often this is true.
However, many times the symptoms are referring from the neck. We do not think of quilting as a stressful job or as difficult work, but that sustained posture can produce symptoms in the shoulder and arm.
The neck is not designed to support your head in a protruded forward position for hours on end. We may enjoy our quilting and reading, but the long-term stress of this awkward position may lead to an acute or chronic pain in the neck, appear as a headache, or appear as referred pain in another area of the body.
The fix for this is simple.
We must sit supported with correct posture, and we must move occasionally in the opposite direction.