Do Sewing Ergonomic Products Really Work?

lumbuddy imp

Do Sewing Ergonomic Products Really Work?

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Nancy’s Notions Guest Blog By Roxanne Nickolie

At Nancy’s Notions we pride ourselves in offering the best assortment of products for sewing enthusiasts. Since we sew ourselves, we love the challenge of finding things that make life behind the machine easier. The latest items to pique our interest are ergonomic products. Intrigued by the design and function, our creative team set out to see if ergonomic items really do soothe pain, improve efficiency, and make things generally more comfortable. Each person tested one product for a whole week while at work. Here are the findings:

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Our graphic designer Micka tried out the Lum Buddy—which claims to encourage proper seating posture in a comfortable way. Before trying the product, Micka’s posture wasn’t exactly picture perfect: “I tend to have bad posture while sitting: I get restless and slide down sometimes—I’m like a four-year-old squirming in my car seat!”

After a week of using this cushion, she rated her posture as “better than average,” noting “the Lum Buddy caused me to sit up straighter without feeling uncomfortable.” She attributed that comfort to the contoured foam back. She said she would consider buying one for herself—a sentiment underlined by the pout she shot me when I asked for the product back at the end of the week.

autoinflate imp

Marilyn, another graphic designer at Nancy’s Notions, tried the Auto-Inflating Lumbar Cushion. With a valve to inflate and deflate, this portable cushion claims to provide support, reduce stress on the spine, and improve posture. Noting that she never experienced chronic back pain, Marilyn said she was curious to observe what kind of changes the Lumbar Cushion brought.

At the end of one week, Marilyn marked in her notes that she thought the Lumbar Cushion improved her posture, “it made me conscious of holding my shoulders straighter, and sitting up.” She wasn’t convinced, however, the cushion is ideal for office-type chairs because of the sturdy rectangle shape. Using the cushion on a straight-backed chair or a sewing chair might have worked better.

Nancy's Notions Ergonomic productsOur third graphic designer Aileen tried out the Gypsy Sit Upon—a Nancy’s Notions classic. The softly inflated rubber disk claims to relieve lower back pain, strengthen core muscles, and improve posture. Before beginning the trial, Aileen noted her level of posture was “worse than average” and wished her back was more comfortable while working. She also expressed interest in keeping her core muscles engaged throughout the day in an effort to strengthen her abdomen and keep her body active while sitting—even if in just a small way.

Fast forward to a week later and Aileen’s posture changed dramatically, marking it as “excellent” in her notes. Admitting the Gypsy took some getting used to (“it almost feels like sitting on an inflatable ball”), eventually she got the hang of it.  Aileen found it lived up to its name as a product that improves posture and engages your muscles, but worried that it did so at the cost of her hiney’s comfort, deciding in the end that it might be better used for something like sporadic sewing rather than all-day office work.

Nancy's Notions Ergonomic products

Our Art Director Laura took the plunge with one of our most popular ergonomic products, the Body Rite posture corrector. The three-pound counter-balance claims to prevent back, shoulder, and neck strain and encourages good posture. Before the experiment, Laura confessed her shoulder and neck experienced frequent discomfort throughout the day at her desk, and her posture while at the computer was poor.

A week later and her posture noticeably improved, “the subtle weight draws your shoulders down and definitely reminds you to straighten your spine.” She said she would recommend the product to a friend for how it improved her back discomfort and helped with her posture. She did, however add an important note for everyday use: “when sitting in a chair with a back, the Body Rite rubs against the chair back and can cause you to lean forward.” She thought it would work best when sitting in a backless chair, particularly because that is when posture seems worse.

Nancy's Notions Ergonomic ProductsWhen it came to the Hot and Cold Gel Wrist Support, it seemed a natural choice to have the Nancy’s Notion’s copywriter try it out (in case you didn’t notice, that’s yours truly—Roxanne). Writing all the catalog and web product copy, my hands and wrists are something I’m always paying attention to. This product came highly recommended from our Sewing With Nancy writer who suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, so I was excited to see what would happen.

I can say in all honesty that this product blew me away. I thought wearing a wrap at my desk would be really distracting—it was just the opposite. It subtly kept my wrist straight and gently compressed, creating such a comforting effect, I could feel my other wrist wishing it had one on too. I microwaved the gel insert a couple of times. It got hot right away, and soothed my wrist all the more. This is a hot-ticket item around the office, and the wrap I wore for a week was quickly scouted out and borrowed by a coworker who also gave it rave reviews.

Nancy's Notions Ergonomic products

Nancy’s Notions Director of Creative Services, Donna, chose the Handeze Therapeutic Gloves for her test product. These compression gloves claim to trap your natural body heat to improve blood circulation and relieve pain: a feature that would certainly come in handy for someone who writes all Nancy’s Notions emails. Before the test, Donna noted she wished her hands were more comfortable while working, occasionally being distracted from her work by the discomfort.

One week later and Donna glowed about Handeze’s sturdy compression saying that it offered “soft but firm support.” She also praised the glove’s open-finger design, allowing her to go about her work without the distraction of full-length coverage. Being a stylish, fun-loving woman, she did add at the end, “I wish they came in different colors!”

From “can’t keep it on” to “can’t live without,” our creative team learned a lot from trying out these products. And it isn’t just an employee perk—you can try them out too! Our whole collection of ergonomic products is constantly updating with new ways to stay comfortable. And if the item you buy doesn’t dazzle your boots off, you can always send it back for a full refund, no problem. Here’s wishing you many days of comfy stitching!

Thank you Roxanne for another great blog.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Sharon Kirby
    November 25, 2014

    Thanks for this review of these products as one can spend a lot of money trying to find the right thing for your particular application and this makes it easier. One important thing to note is that there are other things that can be done to help ourselves as well. My husband made risers for my cutting table to bring it up to a height that prevents my back from aching while cutting and it is a vast improvement. When I was eighteen I went on a cutting marathon one evening and cut three patterns out of heavy jersey. My shears were not as sharp as they should have been and I gave myself carpel tunnel syndrome in the process. So it is important to keep our tools in the the best of shape and remember if something hurts fix the problem.

  • Charlotte Oliver
    November 25, 2014

    I have a cutting table that is the right height for cutting, but when sandwiching a quilt it isn’t quite large enough. I picked up a set of bed risers and put them under one of my sewing tables. Lo and Behold it made the table the same height as the cutting table and made sandwiching a larger quilt so much easier. And it only took minutes to remove the inexpensive bed risers and store them away. They stack so storage isn’t a major issue with them. And they are handy for the next one.

  • Jeff Caplan
    November 25, 2014

    Hunching over and straining to see your work leads to back, neck and of course eye strain. These ailments are very common among artists doing fine detail work like sewing.

    Strong reading glasses can help but they force you to sit closer to your work, pulling you out of ergonomic positioning. The stronger the reader, the closer you are forced to sit to your work.

    If you are nearsighted and take off your glasses when you work (which is very common), you again have to sit closer to your work to see.

    If you can see great detail while sitting in an upright, ergonomic position, the physical strain of sitting for hours can be significantly relieved if not eliminated.

    Unfortunately, the connection between artists’ vision and physical ailments is so often missed or ignored, yet it is probably the most important element of achieving proper ergonomics. Telescopic magnification (like the kind your dentist wears and like you can get at CraftOptics) can help you get into this upright, comfortable ergonomic position, saving your back, neck, shoulder and of course, eye strain.

  • Ruth Rightmyer
    November 25, 2014

    The gypsy sit upon gave me motion sickness. I tried it on 3 different styles of chairs. Each time, I had motion sickness.

  • Robyn
    November 25, 2014

    I can personally vouch for the 3 pound counterweight and the gypsy sit-upon cushion. I tried them both out of desperation. Besides sewing, I wear the counterweight when I am standing in the kitchen for longer periods of time (Thanksgiving!) and when I sit at the computer. They both are EXCELLENT and make a big difference. I would say my normal posture is great but when I sew I must lean in or something. These products both really help relieve pain I feel in my upper back.

  • Ellen
    November 25, 2014

    Would you review the Magnetic Posture Corrector? There are no customer reviews.

  • Elaine ransom
    November 25, 2014

    I used the handeze glove for a year or two after I fell and hurt my thumb,, but I must admit I endedup making myself extras out of swim suit fabric. But what is tout there for the 5foot and under sewers? My husband built me a lower than normal table and I use a mechanic’s adjustBle stool as seating as office type chairs are too deep and pitch me forward.

  • Shirley Schepers
    November 25, 2014

    Thank you for the reviews of these products! They were very helpful plus I was not aware of a few of them. Based on these reviews I am going to try the gel wrist support and the Lum Buddy. I have tried the Gypsy Sit Upon but could not get used to it.

  • Arlean Fry
    November 25, 2014

    I would love to try the Gypsey sit opon as I have really bad back aches when I quilt for any length of time.

  • Arlean Fry
    November 25, 2014

    I would really love to try the Gypsy Sit Upon as I have bad back aches when I sit for long periods of time quilting.

  • Susan Gerhard
    November 25, 2014

    Thank you for the thorough reviews of these products. I’ve seen all of them and wished for an honest review of their effectiveness – rather than spending my money to test them. I hope you and your staff will consider reviewing other products.

  • Jennifer Fried
    November 25, 2014

    Sew so interesting! I am all for anything that helps make life more pleasant. Jennifer

  • Marjorie Lipsey
    May 2, 2016

    A friend helped me build a sewing table the correct height for me ( I am less than 5 feet tall) It is made from a solid core door. I cover it with contact paper and include a stick on measuring tape. It has saved me many a back ache and several headaches from eye strain. I have an adjustable office chair.

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