Knitting is supposed to be relaxing because of the quiet and just sitting down completing a nice project. However, the peace and quiet can be easily disrupted by pain in the wrists, hands, arms, shoulders, neck or back. This can immediately stop you from knitting further and prevent you from finishing that lovely scarf you’re planning to give to your loved one or add to your awesome collection.
What should you do then to avoid the pain and still enjoy long hours of knitting so that you can complete more projects? Are there ways to stay comfortable and pain-free after years of knitting? Here let’s discuss several tips to help you knit comfortably and also help you become a faster and more efficient knitter. Let’s start.
Why knitting causes pain?
First, we have to better understand the causes and sources of pain during and after knitting. This way, we can better design and implement remedies and corrections so that you can knit with no discomfort and no threat to your health.
To better understand why knitting causes pain, let’s step back for a bit and try to observe our routine. Here we can immediately see that we’re in a sitting position and most probably we’re doing it for several hours each day. This reminds us of the dangers of prolonged sitting in modern work environments. Most of us are aware now that prolonged sitting increases the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The sedentary lifestyle and that lack of movement are not suited for us humans because we are meant to move. Our bodies have not yet evolved optimally for the demands of modern work. In addition, prolonged sitting can put strain on our joints and muscles. As a result, chronic diseases and pain show up and the sedentary lifestyle might be even affecting our mental performance.
However, sitting for prolonged periods is part of the job as well as knitting. To minimise or reduce the harmful effects of such prolonged sitting, it’s important to start with our routine and posture. This way, we reduce the burden on our bodies and we can prevent pain and injuries especially in the long term. It’s crucial that we focus on our everyday habits and activities because the effects of those are often insidious and irreversible.
Correcting our routine for the long term
When it comes to our knitting routine, we can similarly apply recommended practices in office work. For example, taking a break by standing up and walking each hour for a few minutes can help. From 9am to 10am you’re in a sitting position but from 10am to 10:10am you should be standing and walking. If you do this almost every hour this can have a huge positive impact to your health. That’s because as you stand and walk, you enable good blood circulation as well as easing the burden on your bones and muscles. Aside from your physical health, this habit of taking a break each hour can refresh your mind and perspective when knitting. Perhaps you’re stuck with a stitch or you can’t exactly figure out what went wrong or how to correct a mistake. Taking a break and stepping back for a bit might give you a fresh set of eyes on your work.
It’s tempting to keep on going even after two or three hours of continuous knitting. Time flies fast and perhaps we really want to complete the sweater or that nice knitted kitchen accessory. However, pushing it too far might actually slow us down because we become prone to making mistakes or we might not even notice the mistakes in the first place. As a result, we continue knitting even if we’re on the wrong track. This compounds the mistake and moreover, our physical health also gets affected because of the habit of prolonged sitting and knitting.
About our posture
Now we’ve realised how our routines can affect our health and even our performance in knitting. Prolonged sitting (whether because of knitting or not) can increase our risks for chronic pain and diseases. To reduce or minimise such effects, regularly taking breaks can help. This single habit can enormously help us knit comfortably because it’s an everyday activity. And when we regularly take breaks (just 5 or 10 minutes for every 45-50 minutes of knitting), we actually help ourselves go further and become faster and more efficient with our work due to sustained mental performance and focus.
Aside from our routine, it’s also important to focus on our posture because this is also an everyday occurrence which can affect us gradually and in the long term. After all, our posture also affects our blood circulation and positioning and strain on our joints and muscles. In addition, our posture also affects our knitting productivity and efficiency. Knitting in a suboptimal posture can put unnecessary strain on our bodies especially on our hands, necks and backs which could then cause us to make suboptimal or awkward movements as well as cause us discomfort and pain (which then makes us stop for a day or two because of the pain).
What’s the optimal posture then? While sitting, it’s important that our feet are planted on the floor and our arms are properly rested when knitting. Many knitters also find it helpful putting a roll of towel or a small pillow for support behind the lower back (and making it easier to maintain a good posture). It’s also good to have excellent lighting wherein your work, the pattern and supplies are properly illuminated. This way you can better maintain your posture and you won’t have to slouch or hunch when struggling to see something. This proper illumination can also reduce strain to your eyes as well as help you prevent making knitting mistakes.
This excellent posture plus taking regular breaks are the keys to knitting comfortably. Aside from the comfort, these can also help us avoid the pain and injuries. After all, our goal is to enjoy knitting as long and as much as possible as well as accomplish more amazing projects. Crucial to achieving that goal is our everyday and long-term comfort.