I had a patient come in last week for her yearly breast/implant exam. I gently reminded her to watch her posture. She then told me that her fiancé who has come with her on previous visits and heard me give her the same reminder now will look at her, smile, and say “posture.” The story made me smile.
It is something I picked up from my mother (and last week was the one month anniversary of my mother’s death). When my sisters and I were young, Mom would have us walk around with a book on our head as a way to teach us to stand up straight. I can’t say I liked it then, but am grateful for it now.
The patient, the anniversary, and the recent post of JMB (Nobody Important) all came together at the right time to inspire this post. This photo she used in her post Shrinking Woman – Arrghhh is exactly why I want all the women around me to stand straight.
JMB’s post is focused on osteoporosis, her mother, and her loss of height.
My mother suffered severely from osteoporosis, being severely bent over for many years before her death at 85. ……….
How tall were you at your tallest? Five foot six inches, I replied. Mmm. Five foot four inches now. Normal, he said. What?????
Yes it is normal to lose two inches of height without necessarily having osteoporosis. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging found that the cumulative height loss from age 30 to 70 years averaged about 3 cm (1.18 inches) for men and 5 cm (1.97 inches) for women (Sorkin, Muller, & Andres, 1999)……….
Mine is on posture. Good posture can help you “appear” tall and thinner. My mother had great posture. She never developed the rolled back (dowager's hump). So I would encourage you all to watch your posture both in standing and at your computer or sewing machine, etc.
Here is a repost of my June 3, 2007 post “Good Posture for Sewing (or Blogging)”
For comfort and to decrease the risk of strain injury, it is important to pick a good chair and to set the sewing machine at a good height for your own body. Susan Delaney Mech, M.D answered this question as follows (photo credit):
The first step is to set the height of your sewing chair. The seat should be at a height that allows your feet to rest flat on the floor and your knees to make a perfect 90-degree angle. A secretarial chair makes a good, adjustable sewing chair.
The next step is to lower your sewing machine table until, with your elbows bent at a perfect 90-degree angle, your fingertips can rest on the feed dog of your machine. I am 5 feet 6 inches tall, and my sewing machine table is 22 inches off of the floor.
- Proper chair and sewing machine height, combined with good posture of your back and neck, and hourly breaks, will go a long way toward preventing (or healing from) Repetitive Strain Injury.
Avoid slouching. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Try to keep your elbow, hips, and knees at right angles (ninety degrees). Avoid pressure to the back of the knees. If your feet can't comfortably be flat on the floor, then consider a foot rest. You should also consider taking breaks every 30-60 minutes and do some stretching exercises for your wrists and hands and body. Sometimes, as in the OR, breaks can't be taken that often. Do the best you can with table/chair (computer monitor/OR table/etc) height and stretch when you are able. It will help keep the aches at bay and the joints a little more supple. That will allow you to enjoy your hobby (sewing, knitting, blogging) and maybe your work for many more years.
You may want to check out this OSHA sewing station design page. Another interesting source for prevention of injury while sewing/quilting is a PowerPoint presentation at Sport & Spine Physical Therapy website is "How to Quilt Forever"