When Cross Stitch Is Bad For Your Health

Just one more stitch. Just one more stitch. Just one more stitch.

We’ve all been there before. It’s just a part of being a cross stitcher, and whilst being in the zone is a great thing for how many stitches you can get done, it isn’t always the greatest thing for your health.
When cross stitching we actually put our bodies through a lot of strain, from poor sitting positions and stiff necks to hand and finger strain and eye problems. So we’ve decided to help you out with a few changes to your stitching set up that will keep you stitching for decades to come!

Take a Break

Stop stitching. Not forever! Just 5 minutes will do!
We’re going to go through a whole list of other things you can do to help, but taking a break applies to all of them. Taking breaks is hard when your deep into a cross stitch but taking a break will give your eyes a rest, your wrist rest, it gives you a chance to reset your posture, get a drink and gives you a little bit of clarity. Its also been proven that taking breaks means you make fewer mistakes, and I’ll do anything to reduce the amount of frogging I have to do…

Stretch your Wrist

Some of the most reported injuries in cross stitch are wrist related. From repetitive strain injury to torn ligaments and even breaks. This might not happen to all of us or even most of us, but it does happen, and once it does, you’ll suffer for a long time to come. The solution to this is actually pretty obvious; stretch it out.
Sure, your cross stitching isn’t going to make you sweat like a workout, but its the same basic principle. Do circles with your wrist every so often to make sure there’s a good range of motion. If you do get some strain and pain, try out wearing a wrist brace while stitching; it’ll help a lot!

Keep Threads Short

Another way to help your wrist, arms, and shoulder is by using the right length of thread. I must admit, I’m terrible for using long pieces of floss, but every time I do it for a few hours I start getting shoulder and neck pain. The right length should be from the tip of your middle finger to the point of your elbow. By keeping your threads short you’ll reduce the stress on your shoulder and associated muscles. It also helps with your posture.

Watch your Posture

There is a whole load of ways to sit while cross stitching depending on your chosen way of stitching and what frame you use, so I’m not going to go into specifics here, but let’s just say, I know, with an almost 100% certainty, that you’re slouching. We do it all the time. It’s just the way your body tries to sit (even though it’s bad for it) so I won’t tell you off or anything, but when you stitch, unmoving for hours, is slouching really the way to go?
We suggest investing in a good chair, lumbar support or just trying to sit up correctly while stitching. So long as your threads aren’t too long you’ll feel the same. However thanks to a better posture you’re saving your spin from compressing in weird ways, your shoulders from overworking and your neck from hanging forward.

Protect your Eyes

Light it up! And we really mean that too. We don’t mind if you choose to use a day light bulb for your cross stitch, or just any random old lamp, but you need to light it up. We’ve gone into length about how to keep your eyesight whilst cross stitching and light is by far the best way to do that. It also helps you cross stitch on black aida, so win-win.

Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)
Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)

We also suggest using magnifiers if you need to do detailed work. Straining your eyes to see those tiny stitches is just going to end badly long term. Help yourself out and magnify that cross stitch!


It might seem an obvious one, but taking a break to get a brew or drink is super important. It’s easy to lose track of time and end up stitching for hours without any breaks or hydration. By enforcing you get up to drink not only do you force a break on yourself, helping both eyesight and posture issues, but you keep yourself hydrated and healthy. Also, its always time for a brew.


Well, with all that water in your system, you’re going to need to use the loo. However many cross stitchers don’t get up to pee when they should. Instead, they repeat that mantra “Just one more stitch. Just one more stitch. Just one more stitch.” and before you know it you’re bursting. Take it from me, just go to the loo. If you keep holding it you can develop kidney stones and infections, which for some can even be life-threatening.
So there it is. Take good care of yourself while cross stitching!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cathy

    Guilty as charged! I sometimes use the timer on my kitchen stove. I set it for 20 minutes. Setting my phone alarm is too handy. Kitchen stove is noisy and gets my attention. Thanks for such a great website!

  2. Elaine

    Guilty of all of these! Except perhaps taking my threads too long – another advantage of using shorter threads is fewer snags and snarls. My solution to sitting too long (hunched, slouched, stiff) is my project to play through my collection of CDs and LPs (yes, I’m ancient). It forces me to get up and move every hour (CDs) or 20 minutes (LPs)! Don’t get that with streaming services.