How to avoid pain in hands from embroidery

Do your hands hurt from your crafty hobby?

Most of the time we crafty people don’t think about how to avoid pain in our hands until it happens – even from embroidery.

Maybe you are one of those embroidery enthusiasts who love to stitch and stitch and stitch for hours.

Once you are in “the flow” of embroidering it is hard to stop – especially when you have an audiobook or series running in the background.

The problem with this is that it can damage the joints in your hands and built up to an unhealthy shortening of the muscles in your fingers, hands, and arms.

Over time your whole body suffers under excessive stitching. And don’t get me started with the awful posture we tend to have while stitching!

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how to avoid hurting hands while crafting

What if…

One of the biggest fears I have is to not be able to use my hands at some point in my life.

Many of the crafty women near me overdid it with the many crafts they did (like knitting whole sweaters in a day by hand) and now they can’t use their hands for crafting anymore because they hurt and stiffen when they hold a needle for a minute.

Don’t let it come so far! It is totally unneccessary to damage your body for a pretty embroidery hoop on the wall.

How to avoid pain your hands in embroidery

First, keep in mind that monotone movements always damage the body over time if you don’t do other movements to balance it out.

So, when you are embroidering for hours you technically need to do counter exercises for hours, too or have those counter movements integrated into your life.

1. Take breaks – often

This is the easiest way to prevent hurting hands.

For every 15 minutes of stitching take a break of 5 minutes.

Maybe you want to stitch longer in one sitting, then fine, do 30 minutes of stitching and a break of 10-15 minutes. Get yourself a tea or coffee, talk to someone, actually look at that series that runs in the background or watch people walking by from your window and let your mind wander.

Shake out your hands and stand up, walk around. Do some situps and jumping jacks (no, I’m just kidding, feel free to do it though 😉 )

This is a tip I need to follow myself more:

Especially when working with your eyes so close to something, it is important to let the eyes wander in other distances, too, or you will hurt your eyes in addition to your hands.

cozyblue hand embroidery pattern

2. Tools to avoid additional strain on your hands

Can I talk about hoop stands now? They are a life saver for your hands. Instead of holding the frame firmly with your one hand, you can relax a little bit and use the hand to actually help the working hand with embroidering.

If you are used to stitching with two hands, you also take away some of the strain off your working hand because it doesn’t have to do all of the work all the time.

Then, there are thimbles. I have been told now from many people that the leather thimbles are great. I could not get used to the clunky metal ones so I will give these leather thimbles a try.

3. Examine what hurts after stitching for a long time

Everyone has a different posture, grip on the needle and overall different problems with their health.

What is it that begins to hurt after stitching for too long?

Maybe your working hand feels stiff because you have a very firm grip on your needle. Maybe your neck hurts because you have an unhealthy posture while stitching (guilty of that!).

Examine what hurts and try to see why that could be and what you can do to change that.

stitchlexicon hands

Tips to ease the pain in your hands

When it is already hurting I recommend you visit a physiotherapist who can give you exercises that are fit for your specific needs. Most of the times it is not just the hand that is hurting.

Additionally, I like to do hand exercises. They balance the monotone movements we do in our crafts (which often is more of a grabbing movement – holding the needle and frame).

Be gentle with yourself. No crafty project is worth risking your health for!


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how to avoid hurting hands while crafting

Here is some further information if you already have problems with your hands hurting or if you REALLY don’t want to let it come that far:

A good article about hand health on the nordic needle.

Crafting a Solution to Hobby-Related Hand Pain very good article written by a hand surgeon. Lots of tips on what to watch out for and which tools you can use to avoid the strain.

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