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Quilting… a dangerous hobby?

[Mount Horeb] When you think of sports and hobbies that are physically demanding you may think of water skiing or mountain climbing. Quilting may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it comes with its share of injury risk. That is why Hands All Around Quilters invited two experts from the Therapy & Wellness Center at Upland Hills Health in Dodgeville to speak at their quilting retreat in Mount Horeb last week. Physical Therapist, Kari Tranel and Occupational Therapist, Amy Hofkes were on hand to share their knowledge for preventing injury with the group. “You would be surprised at the muscle strain, eye strain, cuts and burns quilters experience,” says Tranel.

Quilting

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Tranel and Hofkes reaffirmed that quilting is physically demanding. Carrying supplies, bending forward for long periods of time, repetitive motions like pinching and gripping can take a toll on one’s body. Quilters may experience neck, back and shoulder strains, rotator cuff injury, carpal tunnel, wrist or elbow tendonitis.

The injury prevention methods and stretches presented by Tranel and Hofkes, were met with ideas from attendees. Health quilting tips that came out during the session included:

• Be good to your eyes. Look away from your work to refocus now and then.

• Stay hydrated.

• Position your work table at waist height.

• Use ergonomic cutting tools.

• Wear comfortable, non-restraining clothing.

• Use a wagon or cart to carry supplies, and

• Take breaks. Get up every 30 minutes. Stretch and move. (Participants suggested setting a timer placed across the room so you must get up to turn it off. Or playing a CD and taking a break when it’s done! Dance. Do the conga!)

Hofkes advises, “Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel comfortable, stop what you are doing and reassess your position and posture.”

Tranel noted, “Quilting is an art. It’s often a labor of love and it is this concentration and dedication that drives people to push beyond physical limits. So, it’s important to take breaks and do stretches. Your body deserves it and you’ll be able to continue to do this amazing work.”

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