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Neck pain

I have trouble with neck pain when carving. It must relate to my posture and bad habits of how I approach the work, but I don't know what to do about it. I'm not looking for medical advice, but am wondering if anyone has suggestions for things to try? I remember my woodworking teacher adjusting my stance when chopping mortises to reduce tension and fatigue and am hoping for something like that. I think I tend to flop my head forward, chin to chest, and may even clench that flexion unconsciously, sort of like clenching your teeth. I always seem to be wanting to be closer to the work for sake of seeing better (even with prescription glasses).   Any ideas?

Hi Ed,

What is your work height? I like to have it an inch or so below elbow. But if you are finding yourself still leaning over in uncomfortable positions, you may want to raise it up a little more. You may also want to consider bracing your work on a ramped surface. This will allow your head to not bend so much looking down at the workbench, but look more forward. You may also want to try sitting. This will get your eyes closer to the work, and also relieve "general" pressure on your body from standing. It may be an idea to change from sitting to standing and do a lot of moving, stopping, stretching, straightening up, and even bending backwards to reverse the forward tension. Try setting an alarm every 45 minutes to an hour to remind yourself to stop and clasp your hands behind you and arch backwards.

I hope this helps!

Kate Behrens has reacted to this post.
Kate Behrens

Hi Mary,

Bench height is 36.5" with plans to become more like 38 when I replace the top. Elbow height for me is around 42 1/2". So, it sounds like a good first step would be to try a riser on the bench to get the work up higher. I like the freedom of movement when standing, but will try sitting. It should be possible, at least at times.

Making a riser to sit on the bench top, maybe even with a ramp, sounds like a good thing. I need to think about clamping since the vise will be down at the normal level. Maybe I could make 3-4" risers for under the  bench legs and jack the whole bench up on top of them when carving but then take them out when doing joinery? That would preserve the utility of the vise when carving. I'll need to make sure there is foot clearance under the bench when down fully on the floor, off the risers, for safety reasons.

Thanks for the ideas!