Avoid Getting Stiff and Sore

Everything Else

I really enjoy stained glass, but after I work on a project for a while, I get stiff and sore. What am I doing wrong?

We all enjoy stained glass and most of us find it to be a relaxing hobby. But did you ever finish a project, step back to look at it and realize that your back hurt, or your hands feel tight, or you have a splitting headache? Did you know that many of these symptoms can be avoided by applying a few simple rules of ergonomics. You most likely have heard the word, but did you know that it’s just a fancy way of saying, “fit the task to the person?” There are many ways to accomplish just that, and you’d be surprised how simple it really is. Most people are so intent on what they are doing (enjoying our favorite hobby!) that they don’t pay attention to how they are doing it. Let’s explore some things that you can do to make your glass hobby even more enjoyable.

Here are some general guidelines:

• Practice correct posture at all times. We know it’s easier said than done, but you’ll feel better and be able to work longer if you do.

• Any time you hold or repeat a position for an extended period of time—say 30 minutes—you are going to feel it. Varying your position will prevent aches and pains in certain areas. Instead of cutting glass for two hours, try cutting and  then grinding one section of your design before moving on to another.

• Whenever you hold a body part in an awkward position it applies unnecessary pressure on that body part. So, if you are sitting on your feet because your chair isn’t high enough, your feet are going to fall asleep. Get a taller chair, or an adjustable height table. Listen to your body.

• Set up your workstation so that it is comfortable and efficient. You should not repeatedly stretch or twist to perform a task. 

Your Workstation

• Most people will find a 20–28” tall work surface appropriate for seated tasks. The surface should be about elbow height when you are seated with your feet flat on the floor

• An adjustable chair will allow you to change positions often. If the chair swivels, that’s even better

• There should be sufficient space on the work surface to place the items that you use most often directly in front of you. This will keep you from twisting and stretching unnecessarily

• Finally, your workstation should be well lit to prevent eye fatigue and headaches. The location and intensity of the light should be adjustable. Magnification may also be helpful

Your Body

When sitting at your work table:

• Your head and neck should remain upright and in line with your torso, facing forward (not twisted).

• Your shoulders and upper arms should be in line with your torso and basically relaxed.

• Rest your feet flat on the floor or a stable footrest.

Reprinted with permission from Stained Glass News. All rights reserved. 

profile image
peter r.  •  April 22, 2014
Just an idea: Try jogging. It's worked super for me. Cheers
profile image
Linda M.  •  October 03, 2010
These are all excellent ideas. I have been working with stained glass for 30 years and still find myself doing all the wrong things. But, I do like that you have put this up for even the beginners to see. Oh, So True ! ! !
Stained Glass News

Stained Glass News

Stained Glass News is a full-color newspaper which has been dedicated to informing, entertaining and inspiring stained glass hobbyists for over 22 years. Each issue features: • information on new books, tools and glass • quick tips & hints and Q&A's • columns on stained glass, mosaics, and hot glass by industry experts • photos of our readers' projects in the Readers' Gallery • glassworking hints from our readers on The Readers' Page • a photo and information about a glass workshop belonging to one of our readers on The Readers' Page • other information that makes working with glass easier, more fun and more rewarding SGN is published five times a year (on the first of January, March, May, September and November). The current issue is SGN #90 (May, 2010).