Ergonomic sewing tables should be designed to provide comfort whether you plan on spending a few minutes or several hours sewing. The constant strain of sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time can cause stress on the body. The design of your sewing table can ease that stress, however.
What Is Ergonomics?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, ergonomics is a discipline that involves arranging the environment to fit the person in it. When ergonomics is applied correctly, visual and musculoskeletal discomfort and fatigue are reduced significantly.
In the past, the CDC's Office of Health and Safety has recognized that repetitive motion injuries are actually factors in employee injuries. Excessive and repetitive physical stress on the musculoskeletal system, including the hands, wrists, elbow, shoulders, neck, and back, causes these injuries.
Establishing and following ergonomic principles can reduce stress and eliminate many potential injuries and disorders that are associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks. Companies are designing equipment, work tools, lighting, and specific procedures to reduce the amount of injuries to employees and to recognize the body's physical limitations.
Ergonomic Sewing Tables
Ergonomic sewing tables may be the answer to those aches and pains that many sewers live with. Ordinary sewing provides continuous pressure and strain to the neck, shoulders, arms, and back. For those of you who only sew occasionally, this may not be a major problem. However, if you spend very much time at all at a sewing table or sewing cabinet, you've probably felt the discomfort. You can get up, stretch, and move around to relieve some of the stress, but as soon as you sit down to sew again, the pressure and strain return.
Two sewing professionals, Anna Zapp and Nora McCray, realized that the design of drafting boards and slanted computer keyboards eased the stress of an upright posture typically associated with desk or table work. They decided that the same principle could work for sewing as well. They began tilting their machines, although neither knew the other had also arrived at this solution. Eventually, they became business partners and founded Ergonomic Advantage to produce the Tilt'able.
In an article by Stacy Ringhand entitled "Ergonomically Correct Sewing Station", she states the following: "Poor ergonomic design of sewing machine systems can lead to many health problems for all users, although users with disabilities can encounter additional problems. The angle of the head is lower than its natural position causing strain on the neck and shoulder muscles that may lead to headaches and some cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). The required reaches are also greater than normally recommended and can lead to back pain and strain on the shoulder and elbow joints. Repetitive motion caused by the foot pedal can lead to CTDs in the foot. Excessive noise and poor lighting can also lead to hearing and vision problems."
The solution to this problem addresses four areas: lighting and noise, sewing table, chair, and foot pedal. Appropriate lighting and earplugs could eliminate some of the stress associated with sewing. Ergonomic tables that could be adjusted between 24 and 28 inches with a depth of approximately 19 inches would also relieve undue stress on the body. Other important factors include an adjustable, full-size chair and a double footrest with a foot pedal.
Resources and Sites
Now that you have the facts, where can you find these tables? The following sites will get you started, but don't forget to check with your local sewing and fabric stores. In some cases, they may have tables in stock or available for special order. For information and ordering online, visit the following Websites: