Top 5 go-to stretches for a modern quilter after a day of quilting

Top 5 Stretches after a day of quilting | Shannon Fraser Designs

If you quilt, then you’ve probably experienced some pain or stiffness at some point during your quilting journey. If you haven’t yet, it’s probably just a matter of time.


Because quilting involves lots of repetitive movements. Not to mention lots of time sitting at the sewing machine. And if you quilt your own quilts, then you know the pressure your arms, shoulders and neck feel wrangling the quilt through the machine.

Many of my quilty friends have mentioned feeling tenderness in their shoulders, elbows, neck, hands and back at some point (it not on the regular).

I’m in that camp too!

And so, today, I thought I’d share some of my go-to stretches I turn to, to help keep me in quilty action!

Modern quilter working out | Top 5 stretches after a day of quilting | Shannon Fraser Designs

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But first, let me back up a minute and share some of my history with working out. Had you told me when I was in elementary school that exercise would be an important part of my daily life as an adult, I wouldn’t have believed you. Gym was THE worst class for me (unless of course we were playing with the rainbow coloured parachute – remember those?). Without fail, there would be some sort of running involved and within 5 minutes I’d be back to walking, bent over with a painful stitch in my side. Unless it was swimming or soccer, I really wasn’t into physical activity!

That all changed my second year of university. I was stressed and broke. And needed a way to manage my stress. That’s the year I discovered I love walking. Part of it was out of necessity. I couldn’t afford a bus pass to get to school, so I walked. Rain, snowstorm, or sunshine, I was out there. And, for the most part, loved it! I then started researching other exercises I could add to help further my strength. I gave Tai Bo a go (remember Billy Blanks?!), but soon found myself with sore knees and thought “this is defeating the purpose of getting fit!”.

In time, my search led me to yoga. I really liked the concept of combining strength with flexibility and when I first started it was clear flexibility was an area I needed to work on! 

While living in Japan, I remember coming to the realization that working out needed to be a constant in my daily routine. This wasn’t a nice to have, it was a must. This was not a fun realization; it was kinda daunting. But I made a promise to myself to stick with my workouts to not only benefit in the here and now, but to help my future self too.

You know as well as I do how our bodies stiffen and lose flexibility and bone mass over time. With osteoporosis being a health concern in my family, I made the commitment to include strength training to help prevent bone loss. Yoga keeps me limber and connected with how my body feels. Walking keeps my mind active and clear; I process so much during my (almost) daily walks. They keep me sane!

Plus, did I mention they feel good too?!

Me out for a walk in the winter time | top 5 stretches of a modern quilter | Shannon Fraser Designs


While fitness really wasn’t my strong suit when I was a kid, that changed in my early twenties when I made a promise to myself to take care of myself both physically and mentally.

While I switch up my routine regularly, here’s what it currently looks like:

(Almost) daily 40-minute Walks – I discovered I loved walking and found it so helpful to my mood that I like to get a walk in on the daily. I usually head out in the morning.

Strength Training – don’t let this scare you into thinking you’re going to build bulk or super big muscles. I’ve been doing the Tracy Anderson method for many years now. She’s tough.  But I love how strong I feel when I do her *method. I usually do this after my walk.

Yoga & Pilates – I’ve been sneaking in yoga and Pilates since I was in university. *I learned yoga with this video and the Pilates through the *Winsor Pilates Method. I sneak this in on days that I can’t get out for a walk and is usually my go-to workout on the weekends. Whenever I’m super stressed, I reach for this *yoga video which always leaves me calm and centered.

Me after a walk + Tracy Anderson Method | Top 5 stretches of a modern quilter | Shannon Fraser Designs



My foot on a Manduka yoga mat with a bottle of Graydon germs away spray | top 5 stretches of a modern quilter | Shannon Fraser Designs

Even though I work out on the regular, I was still finding myself a little sore after an intense day of sewing and quilting. Which is why I started incorporating the following stretches.

But first, I just want to point out that I'm not a doctor and I'm just sharing what I do. You should consult your own doctor before trying any new exercises.

With that said, here's my fave stretches


My own physiotherapist had me do some of these very exercises to regain strength after my hand was in a brace for over 2 months. They’re simple, but quite effective.

Thumb Stretches - This one feels particularly good if you’ve been spending a lot of time hand stitching or scrolling on your phone 😉


My hand in a brace to help ease tendinitis | top 5 stretches of a modern quilter | Shannon Fraser Designs

My hand in a brace to help deal with tendinitis.


If you’re feeling any kind of tightness in your neck, shoulders and upper back, this 10-minute Yoga with Adriene routine is super soothing.  


Since we do a lot of sitting, legs up the wall feels AH-mazing! I’ve recently started doing this on the daily at the end of the day – whether I’m typing or sewing, this pose feels reaaaaaaally good! (I’m already looking forward to my afternoon session!)

For some additional stretch options check out this 2016 post

My hand with a Fitbit over a modern mini improv quilt I'm hand quilting | top 5 stretches of a modern quilter | Shannon Fraser Designs

I also wear a *Fitbit which I have set-up to remind me every hour to walk a minimum of 250 steps. If I haven’t, it vibrates to remind me to sneak them in. I tend to get lost in my work and will forget to move. It’s been eye opening to realize how easy it is to just sit there for an hour without moving. Heads up, sewing does make the Fitbit think you’re moving.

When it comes to taking care of yourself from repetitive movements – prevention is key! Try sneaking these stretches in on the daily to reap the most reward.

I’d love to know your tips and tricks for keeping pain at bay. Share in the comments so we can all benefit!

Happy stretching!



PS I've reached out to Yoga with Adriene to see if she would make a yoga video for quilters – fingers crossed!


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