This might sound a little strange but I have enjoyed sharing my experience of crafting with pain and disability on the blog. Thank you to everyone who has commented on Instagram on my personal Facebook page (sorry I keep my Facebook friends private) I do believe that there a lot of people out there who are in a similar situation to myself. You may not necessarily have the same conditions or issues that I have but many people do have issues that I wouldn’t say limit but more result in them having to do their crafting a little different to other people. I am by no means an expert but I would like to share some advice with people.
If you find you are developing pain when you are crafting seek professional help. Have a chat to your Doctor they may suggest you see a occupational therapist or maybe another trained professional who can help. My personal trainer is brilliant as he is very knowledgeable in areas outside regular fitness. He helps with posture and stretching, he integrates exercises to build up strength in my muscles so that I can craft. We work on the smaller muscles in the hands and feet that sometimes get overlooked. For me it is important we work the small muscles and not just the larger ones.
Buy The Best Tools That You Can
I know how easy it is to jump into a new craft, buy the top end equipment then decide you don’t like the craft and you have wasted your money. We’ve all done it. If you find you are sticking with a craft and you enjoy it then buy the best quality equipment that you can. Think of it as a long term investment. If you want to be doing the craft for a long time then get some comfortable tools so you can continue doing it. You might build the tools up slowly over time but it will be worth it. When people ask “What do you want for your birthday/Christmas” tell them that craft item you really want as it is something you can actually use.
Adapt Your Space
You need your craft space or area to work for you. Change your area around so that everything is convenient for you. Raise a table up on blocks if you need it higher, change your storage solutions so you’re not having to lift heavy crates if you can’t move anything heavy, rearrange your furniture so that you can move about and craft easier. If you need to sit when doing the ironing lower your ironing board and move a chair over to it.
Take Regular Breaks
It is easy to get so focused on the project you’re working on and forget to take breaks but you really should. To minimize pain I need to keep taking regular breaks to give my body a rest between tasks. Use your break times to stay hydrated or read your pattern or just sit for a few minutes and think about the upcoming tasks you’re about to do so it is more clear in your mind. Regular breaks can also stop brain fatigue, we all know when tiredness kicks in is when you start making those silly little mistakes.
Stretch And Move About
Do basic stretches of your hands and feet. If your craft involves a lot of sitting move your legs and feet about to keep the circulation moving in them. Stand up if you have been sitting or the opposite sit down if you have been standing. You can find some great stretching exercises online if you do a google search. Even just simple movements like rotating your wrists or ankles around or just clenching a releasing your fingers. These all get the muscles moving.
Its Ok To Say No
Don’t feel pressured to take on a project for someone if doing so is going to cause you pain or discomfort. Yes you could spend hours on an item so someone could have it in time for a deadline but if as a result you will be in pain for a week then it isn’t worth it. Say No sorry I can’t make that for you and don’t feel bad. You deserve to put yourself first
Set Yourself Realistic Deadlines
If you are making a gift or you want to enter a piece in a competition give yourself adequate time to make it including buffer time just in case things go wrong. Don’t leave it to the last minute rushing to get it finished as you will be less inclined to take breaks and cause yourself pain. Plan ahead, start things early and if you miss a deadline its ok just relax it isn’t the end of the world. If it is a gift you could always show the person the project you making them and they will still adore it.
Get To Know Your Body
Learn the signs your body is telling you of when it is getting tired, when it needs a break. Work out what you body needs you to do to reduce your pain and discomfort. If your body needs you to stop every 10mins when crafting then stop every 10mins. If your back gets sore after standing for 20mins then only stand for 15mins before taking a break. If crafting and all of a sudden you feel a pain or twinge then stop and take a break, if it is still sore after that maybe your body is saying that is enough for today. Learn to understand your bodies limits so you don’t push yourself too much.
It Is Ok Not To Be Crafting
Don’t feel bad if you’re not crafting all the time. If you need to take a break from crafting for a day or a week or however long your body needs it is ok. Don’t force yourself if you are in pain to craft as crafting is meant to be fun. We all have times when our body needs us to stop and do nothing. When your body is up to it you will get back to crafting and you will enjoy it. If you still need your crafting fix during that time read a craft magazine or pattern book, write your “to make” list or do some online shopping for any supplies that you need.
Don’t Hide Your Pain
It is really easy to put on the brave face and act like it doesn’t hurt but you don’t have to. Be open about your pain. Pain is a very isolating condition which I think more people suffer from than we realise because it isn’t talked about. You don’t actually have to be disabled to suffer from pain you may get it from a long term injury, medical condition, it could develop from repetitive motions or sometimes it seems pain just develops for no reason. You may suffer from pain short term or long term either way pain is pain. Life doesn’t stop because of you have pain and you do have to learn to manage but that doesn’t mean you need to hide it away and pretend it doesn’t exist.
There is no rule book when it comes to crafting with pain as each person suffers from pain in their own way. Don’t compare yourself with others just do whatever works for you. Discovering how you need to do things sometimes comes with trial and error but don’t be afraid to try things. Once again a big thank you to Gillian for inspiring me to share my story about the way that I craft with disability and pain.