Ask a Knitter
(Note: This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.)
Many of us love knitting because it combines creativity with peace of mind. But let’s face it. Knitting hurts! Who among us hasn’t gotten up from an evening of yarny fun without noticing a twinge in the hands, wrists, arms, or neck? Your body is your primary knitting tool, and you must take good care of yourself if you want to prevent injury. Here are three tips for healthy knitting:
Maintain Good Posture
The single most important thing you can do to prevent injury while knitting is to maintain good posture. Find a comfortable chair which allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid hunching over as much as possible. Sitting up straight with your shoulders relaxed and down will help you knit in comfort.
Use the Right Tools
There are four key tools that can help keep your knitting pain-free. First, invest in circular needles and use them even when you are not working in the round. Straight needles can cause strain on hands and wrists – especially when working on heavy projects such as blankets or sweaters. Second, if arthritis is an issue, consider bamboo or wood needles. Their warmth may feel more comfortable to arthritic hands than the coldness of steel or aluminum. Third, get a good lamp. Not only will adequate lighting help you avoid eyestrain, it will also keep you from having to hunch over your knitting to see your stitches. Finally, place a stack of pillows on your lap while knitting to elevate your work. This can prevent the need to bend your head forward which can cause temporary neck pain and even permanent damage to the spine.
Take Movement Breaks
We know that sitting for long periods of time, whether at a desk or in a comfortable knitting chair, isn’t good for our bodies. So take frequent breaks while knitting, and use that time to move. For every 30 minutes of knitting, try to spend 10 minutes in motion. Walk or dance around then do your favorite stretches to relieve tension and strain. Set a timer to remind you to take these movement breaks. Also, consider following a regular exercise routine including yoga or pilates to strengthen your muscles and increase over all flexibility.
Remember, no matter how well you can purl into the back loop, taking care of your body is the most important knitting skill of all. Utilizing the right posture, tools, and movements can keep your body in prime knitting form for years to come.
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