It's hard to believe that something you enjoy doing could potentially be painful, but when it comes to knitting, for some people there is such thing as too much of a good thing.
Repetitive Stress Injury and Knitters
The problem is known as repetitive stress injury, or RSI for short. You've probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a particular RSI often but not always caused by working on a computer for long periods.
RSI is a more general term for conditions of the arms, wrists, neck, shoulders and/or back caused by repeatedly performing a motion, often in a way that is not comfortable or correct for your body.
Knitters with RSIs tend to have problems in their wrists, backs, hands, necks, or any combination. Their problems can be caused by sitting for long periods using poor posture, gripping the needles too tightly or putting too much weight on the wrists with a large project.
RSI is much easier to prevent than it is to treat, and the main thing you can do to prevent RSI is to craft in moderation. Follow these guidelines for healthier crafting:
- Set a timer. Take a 10 minute break every half hour or 45 minutes. Get up. Walk around, do some stretches, have a drink of water (hydration helps keep joints healthy) and stop when you feel tired.
- Use circular needles for big projects. Afghans, long scarves and sweaters are heavy, and holding the whole project on one straight needle puts a lot of strain on your wrists. Using a circular needle, even if your project is straight, will help distribute the weight an make your wrists happier.
- Use fat needles. Large needles are easier to grip and will put less strain on your hands than small needles. Of course not all projects can be accomplished on large needles, but if you've had an injury in the past it can't hurt to choose projects worked on large needles, which will be easier on your hands.
- Sit up straight. Posture is important when you're sitting for long periods in the same position. Sit up straight, keep your feet on the floor, and remember to take breaks. If you have had RSI problems you can also prop your arms on pillows or arm rests to further support the body and distribute the weight of your project.