Posts Tagged ‘break’

12
Nov

KNITTING PAINS AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM

Written by Sarah. Posted in life, long reads

First off, I am in no way a medical professional so if you’ve found this blog post because you’re Googling pain associated with knitting, go talk to your doctor.

As I mentioned last week, my wrists have been pretty unhappy for a few days. I’ve been having some awful aches in my wrists, elbows, and sometimes a bit shooting into my upper arms. When I tweeted about my plight, I was immediately met with calls to rest, ice, and stretch along with a dose of Advil. I take after the stoic women in my family who refuse to see a doctor unless something is definitely bleeding or has been broken for three weeks so it is all the more reason to take care of myself.

I think it’s important to address this here because it’s something that I haven’t dealt with so seriously up until this point and something that less experienced knitters don’t tend to think about at all. We have to take care of our little mitts. These are the only wrists we’ve got. Knitting is a full contact sport and can cause long-term damage.

wrists

I’ve been in serious denial that I was having pain related to knitting until I had to give myself time off. I was under the impression that I hadn’t knit very much last week so I didn’t know what caused all of this trouble. I stopped knitting on Thursday and was feeling better Saturday afternoon. I decided that I’d knit a little bit but, big mistake, the pain was at its worst Saturday night where I couldn’t lift a glass of water without wincing. I often sleep wrong and pull muscles in my neck and I have a job that requires heavy lifting of cumbersome pieces. I like to think I’m always lifting with my knees and being careful but other people have been injured and I’ve definitely come home sore on more than one occasion. That being said, I do spend a lot of time with my needles and many designers have given me the side eye when I tell them this is definitely not a knitting injury. Whether it is or not, maybe I’ll never know but either way, it’s time to treat this the way it deserves.

In my research and reading, here’s my best suggestions for avoiding any wrist pains ever:

1. Posture – I knit after a long day at work. I knit on the couch, sprawled out while watching a movie. Sometimes I knit crammed on a packed rush hour train. It’s really easy to forget proper posture when I’m tired but that’s the first step down a long road to permanent wrist pain. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Having good posture is important for life outside of knitting, too. Sitting up straight at work and having a chair that is the correct height is a good start and will help keep knitting from exacerbating the situation. (There are great posture tips from a physical therapist here and here!)

2. Stretch – There are so many stretching guides for knitters. You know what to do, stretch your fingers out and push them back towards your wrists lightly. Squeeze your elbows down to your wrist. (Here are some great stretches to keep your fingers limber. Thanks for passing those along, Linda!)

3.  Relax – Knitting all day isn’t good for you. It’s really tempting and, let’s be honest, sometimes you have to finish a sample in time or you haven’t had time to knit all week and Sunday is free of plans! Be careful! A lot of you have suggested switching between projects with different gauges but more importantly, just put the needles down. Give yourself nice breaks to stretch and relax. Go outside or eat a sandwich or read a goddamn book. I’m going to go ahead and say don’t switch from knitting to cruising Ravelry. Typing is not going to give your wrists a break.

Now, in addition to the top three suggestions, here’s how I’ve been treating my sore wrists:

1. Support Gloves – I was wearing my Lion Brand wrist support gloves (pictured above) after the pain initially started. They’re tight and feel like your wrist is getting a hug. Some people say that if they start to feel pain, they can continue knitting after throwing a pair of these. Now that the pain’s been with me for a few days, I decided to get some more serious gloves that are a bit rigid. I invested in these Futuro gloves that are very comfortable and seem to be helping me heal.

2. Serious rest – I’m not talking about a break here and there. I’ve stopped knitting for as long as I need. It’s really difficult. I don’t know how to sit on the couch without doing something. Non-knitters must live awful, boring lives.

3. Advil – My tolerance for pain is about zero out of ten. Research says that gingers are more sensitive to pain so it’s either genetic or I’m a gigantic baby. Either way, Advil brings down any swelling and I can at least go through my day at work without wincing so hard. Don’t forget that just because you’ve now forgotten about the pain that it’s gone. Don’t over do it!

REMEMBER, tingling or numbness is bad. You’ve definitely got to stop and see a doctor then.

Speaking of doctors, I should probably be visiting one myself. Not being able to knit is one of my biggest fears being realized over the last few days as being a complete possibility. I know that is very dramatic but even just having to put my needles away for one day has made me so sad. Knitting is the one thing that I look forward to every day. It makes me rush out the door at 5:00 and I spend every spare moment tweeting to knitter friends, reading craft blogs, and looking at Ravelry. You can’t realize how precious those moments of meditation and relaxation and fulfillment are until you’re without them even for a short period of time.

So I promise, knitting gods, if my little hands heal up quickly,  I promise that I’ll never treat them badly again. I’ll keep the knitting spirit all year long. That’s a promise we should all keep.

What do you do when your wrists start to ache? Have you ever had any bad knitting injuries?

ps. Happy birthday to my mom! A wonderful knitter who knows a thing or two about over-doing it and hurting herself. <3

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,