Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve, like when your wrist is bent up over your iron, bent down when rotary cutting or leaning against your sewing machine. Poor sewing ergonomics can contribute to compression on your median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel - a narrow passageway on the palm side of your hand at the wrist. It is surrounded by ligaments and bones.


  • Tingling or numbness. You may notice tingling and numbness in your fingers or hand. Usually the thumb and index, middle or ring fingers are affected, but not your little finger. You might feel a sensation like an electric shock in these fingers. The sensation may travel from your wrist up your arm. These symptoms often occur while holding a steering wheel, phone or rotary cutter, or may wake you.

  • Weakness. You may experience weakness in your hand, especially your grip and drop objects. This may be due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the thumb's pinching muscles, which are also controlled by the median nerve.

Warm Up

1. Rotate your wrist up, down, and from side to side.

2. Stretch your fingers far apart. Relax them, and repeat.

3. Stretch your thumb by pulling it back gently, holding, and releasing it.

4. Try simply "shaking out" your hands for an easy warm up.

The Three Best Stretches for your Carpal Tunnel.

Prayer Stretch

1. Start with your palms together in front of your chest just below your chin.

2. Slowly lower your hands toward your waistline, keeping your hands close to your body and palms together until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearms.

3. Hold for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Wrist Flexor Stretch

1. Extend your arm in front of you with your palm up, pointing your hand toward the sky like a a stop sign.

2. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm.

3. Hold for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

4. Switch hands and repeat.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

1.Place one arm straight out in front of you, elbow straight, with your wrist extended and fingers facing the floor.

2. Spread your fingers and use your other hand to gently apply pressure to the downward-facing hand.

3. Hold for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

4. Switch hands and repeat.

Here's a great way to stretch both

forearms at the same time!

Enjoy five minutes of self-care.

Once you have your brush, its a free weekly treat!

Greater blood flow = less pain = more sewing time.

Why: We know that we detoxify through our sweat, and that sweat leaves through our it makes sense that creating a clear path will help speed up our body’s natural detoxification. However our liver eliminates toxins for us daily, without any help from dry brushing. So why dry brush?

Dry brushing increases blood flow and naturally improves circulation, which means your organs and muscles receive a better supply of oxygen.

Greater blood flow = less pain = more sewing time.

When: Morning - Brush to get your day started. Dry brushing is energizing as it increases blood flow so its great to in the morning before you shower. You may have a restless night if you do it before bedtime. It can take as little as two minutes, or a decadent ten. I personally don't have the attention span for more than about four minutes, though I've never timed it.

Where: Since you'll be naked, the bathroom with a locked door is a good idea.

What to use: Choose a brush with stiff natural fibres, synthetic fibres can be harsh on your skin. This is something best to buy in person, so you can be sure the bristles are not too rough. You can find decent brushes at the drugstore, but have a look, around your house, you may already have one tucked away.


Always brush towards the heart and on dry skin.

  • start with the bottom of your feet and make small circular movements, working your way up your legs

  • use a clockwise motion on your tummy

  • don't forget your back - which is why the long handles are best

  • for your arms, start with your hands moving up towards your shoulders

  • use firm, long upward strokes, or work in a circular motion where appropriate

  • the whole process takes between two and five minutes

There’s no wrong or right way to do it, any stimulation is better than none if you don't overdo it.

Go Easy! Aim for stimulation not harsh exfoliation, brushing should be gentle and never break the skin. Dry brushing stimulates your natural production of sebum, which means smoother skin in the end. Wash your brush once in a while to get rid of the accumulated dead skin cells or tap it against the edge of your sink.

I can't guarantee it will stimulate your lymphatic system or make your thighs look like they used to, but it can’t hurt!

I’ve had sexy orthotics in my runners for years, but my legs will still pay the price if I stand on a hard surface for too long. So even if you are already wearing the right shoes, you may still benefit from using an anti-fatigue mat in your sewing room. I have two, one in front of my longarm and one by my cutting table. When I have a lot of pressing to do (but not enough to sit down ) I just drag a mat over to the ironing board. When I'm working on a big quilt, I position both in front of the longarm.

Here in Canada, building supply and home furnishing stores all carry anti-fatigue mats in varying degrees of quality and price points. While speaking at the Festival of Quilts in the UK this summer, I was surprised at how many people were not familiar with them. I had lecture attendees from Germany, England and Ireland that had never noticed these for sale. They may have just not been looking for them, but they sure are now. My dad and brothers are machinists and I've worked in a few restaurants, so these are all too familiar to me.

Anti-fatigue mats are specifically designed to reduce the fatigue and discomfort that happens when standing on hard flooring for long periods of time. They provide a cushioned surface that encourages slight leg and calf muscle movements. These micro-movements increase blood flow and circulation , reducing the amount of stress and fatigue on the body. A perfect mat will be firm enough to support your weight but will give slightly under your feet to create instability and promote blood circulation, which relieves tension from pressure points in the lower back, knees, calves, ankles, and heels.

In 2012, two professors at Loughborough University, George Havenith and Lucy Dorman, conducted a study of anti-fatigue mats in a special laboratory created for the test. No not a sewing studio. The study involved 14 participants who stood on either a concrete floor (no-mat condition) or on anti-fatigue mats (mat condition) for 90-minute sessions over a 5-day period. Pain, discomfort, tiredness and fatigue that might develop after standing for prolonged periods were measured by a variety of methods; these included infrared thermal imaging, body temperature sensors placed on the participants, infrared photographs and post session questionnaires. After evaluating the results, the researchers found that standing for the 90-minute periods caused serious discomfort to the feet, legs and back of the study participants. The researchers also found it caused stiffness to the neck and shoulders. The study also concluded that the use of mats designed to reduce stresses on the feet and leg when standing for long periods made a statistically significant difference in helping to prevent many of these health concerns.

Things to consider when purchasing your mat:

  • Aesthetics – Quilters and sewcialists are creative makers that like colour and design. We are visual animals. Some mats are downright ugly. With so many quality mats in aesthetically pleasing colors and textures, why invest in something you’ll hate looking at every day? I purchased neutral ones that I plan to paint someday. If anyone has any tips on that, please let me know @

  • Size Matters- Softer and thicker may not always be better. Choose a mat that provides some elasticity, but at the same time is not so soft that you feel wobbly or cannot stand on comfortably. Mats that are 1/4″ or 3/8″ thick will provide very little relief for your feet and back. Halfway-decent mats begin at 5/8″, and the very best will be 3/4″ thick. Keep in mind, though, the material matters as much as the thickness. A 3/4″-thick sponge mat won’t provide as much support as a 5/8″-thick solid polyurethane mat.

  • Compression – Material compressibility is what determines how comfortable a mat will be for prolonged use. If a mat is too squishy and soft, it will compress too much (‘bottom out’) under your weight, becoming virtually as hard as the floor. They should be soft and have enough cushioning to provide relief and encourage subtle movements throughout the day. On the flip side, a mat that doesn’t compress at all will create too much pressure on the legs and feet.

  • Grip - Mats should have enough grip against the floor, so that they cannot easily slide, but not be so sticky that you can’t reposition them with your foot.

  • Sloped edges - This lessen the chance of having them become a tripping hazard.

  • Durable - Mats that are completely sealed, with no visible seams will ensure that no water from an overfilled steam iron or spilled coffee are absorbed into the mat.

All Anti-Fatigue Mats Are NOT Created Equal

Anti-fatigue standing mats were originally designed for factories, warehouses and industrial kitchens. Some of today's versions are great for 20 minutes in the kitchen and are often designed with bare or sock feet in mind. A more durable mat will withstand having shoes on it, yes, we all sew barefoot sometimes, but those pins can hurt. Office-grade standing mats or industrial mats are specifically designed for longer use and shoes. The best anti-fatigue mats will be much firmer and will maintain their buoyancy throughout the workday.

Just like a mattress it’s what’s inside that counts. Low-quality mats can’t withstand the daily pounding of feet without breaking down; they tend to lose their cushioning over time. However for the average sewing enthusiast who is not standing in one spot for an 8-hour shift, a less expensive version might work just fine.

I purchased mine from Homesense after they had been marked down to about $24 and they work fine for now.

Will I need to replace them sooner than later? Who knows!

For More information email or call 1-519-241-1371 EST