Unfortunately, pain is something that yarn crafters deal with from time to time. Repetitive motions in the hands and/or wrists can often cause cramping or sharp pains that make it hard to finish that big project! Luckily, a lot of pain can be avoided or alleviated with some basic adjustments to your form. By tweaking your movements, you can help make the process more comfortable for your joints. First, try loosening your grip and sitting up straight. When teaching, I find that pain complaints can be stopped when we adjust the hunched-over-death grip that nervous students take on the hooks. Your grip should be firm but flexible. If someone pulled on your hook, it should come free easily. No white knuckles necessary!
Also, is the piece you’re working on large and cumbersome, like an afghan or an adult sweater, perhaps? If so, make sure you’re working somewhere where you can place the item to help hold the weight rather than letting it just hang down, putting all the weight on your wrists. When I am working on a big item, I will often find a comfortable chair at a table or place a pillow in my lap to help manage the weight.
These steps may relieve a great deal of your pain. You can also try a few gentle stretches before working and at break periods throughout your session. One that I find really helpful is something I like to call the “Yarn Prayer” followed by the “Motorcycle Stretch.”
• Sit tall and place your hands together in front of your chest, as if you are about to pray. Press them together firmly from wrist to fingertips.
• Slowly press one hand into the other so the other flexes backward. Hold for a count of ten and switch. Do this a few times with deep breaths.
• While still holding that prayer form, rotate hands outwards to make fingertips point into the room. Hold for a count of ten and then rotate back to upright.
• Next, rotate so that your fingertips are now pointing inwards. Hold for a count of ten.
• Move your hands apart and forward from your body, palms down, and make fists (not tight). While keeping your arms straight, rotate your wrists to point your fists away from your body, holding for 10 seconds. You’ll really feel this one in your forearms!
• Finally, drop your hands to your side and shake them out. A few shoulder shrug rolls will probably feel good at this point as well
If you think you need additional support, there are some really great support gloves on the market that you can wear while working on your project. They provide some compression and help with swelling. The Crochet Dude has a great line of different styles available at Michael’s and JoAnns. I wear them when I know I’ll be sitting for a while (deadlines can be brutal sometimes) or if I am working on a heavy piece.
Something to really keep in mind is that pain may be a sign of a Repetitive Strain Injury, which makes up nearly two thirds of occupational illnesses according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The folks at RSI-Therapy.com recommend limiting time spent on a certain job to one hour or less to help prevent these types of strains. Remind yourself to take plenty of breaks to allow your body to experience different types of movement. I like to use a timer to help me remember, though with my kids I’m lucky to get in more than a half hour at a time!
If you’re experiencing a great deal of pain (especially sharp, stabbing pains), I would definitely suggest a visit to your doctor. You may have something else going on, such as carpal tunnel, and might benefit from physical therapy. Don’t forget: ice and Aleve are your friends!
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