We had the pleasure recently to welcome doctor Kate Colwell to our women’s cooperative meeting in Pactuama, Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. Kate specializes in helping artisans with healthy body dynamics, posture, self-care, and injury prevention. It was an important workshop to have with our group of 40 weavers and a great first introduction to the idea of self care for injury and sickness prevention.
The concept of “self-care” isn’t commonly used in our weaving communities. Life is hard and everyone puts in their part to help the family survive, without complaint. Women perform phsycially demanding tasks all day every day- hand-washing the family laundry, gathering and carrying fire wood, preparing meals by hand, childcare, animal husbandry, and weaving. They have very few opportunities to dream about “pampering” themselves, and much less to give importance to the aches and pains of their bodies.
But as we learned with Dr. Colwell, those aches and pains are important messages to listen to in order to prevent more serious injuries and later in-life illnesses like arthritis. During this wonderful workshop, Dr. Colwell taught us all preventative stretches to do with the back, arms, and hands before and after weaving to avoid repetitive stress injury when weaving orders for Yabal. And the importance of taking breaks from weaving to give the muscles a break- and listening to our aches and pains as a sign to take a break and stretch! Yabal is now incorporating stretching into each cooperative meeting with our women artisans, and it feels good.