Hand Care For Knitters

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*Disclaimer - I am not a healthcare professional.  This post is not intended to replace medical advice.  This is my own personal experience and experiences that have been shared with me by others.  If you have a knitting related injury/strain/pain you should seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.

This is your annual reminder to take care of your hands this Giftmas knitting season!  For many of us, this is our busy season as we knit as much as possible finish all the gifts as before the clock strikes midnight on the 24th.  

Here are some strategies to help you make sure that you and your hands survive December.  There's also a cool infographic at the bottom of this post that demonstrates some helpful stretching techniques:  

  • Take a break: Knitting is meditative, I get it!  When I’m in the zone I can contentedly knit along for hours on end, which usually results in a sore hand and wrist the next day.  Remember to mindfully take breaks, walk away and find something else to do.  Sometimes I knit by the inch (as in I will knit a certain number of inches then take a break), sometimes I knit with a time limit (as in I will change tasks in one hour, or after this episode or podcast).

  • Stretch:  Stretching helps.  I find stretching to be especially effective when I do it in the evening or at bedtime since everything seems to seize up while I sleep.  

  • Warm water: Having a shower, a bath or even just washing some dishes in warm water seems to to help the pain and stiffness quite a bit.  

  • Wear a Brace: I hate this one, but it helps.  I have a brace for my right hand that restricts the range of motion and essentially forces me to rest.  It's a bitch to knit in, so I don't knit when I wear it, but that's probably the point.

  • Medication: I occasionally take anti-inflammatory medication to help with the discomfort.  Not very often though as I do not want to become dependent on them.  

Here are some things that other knitters have told me work for them:

  • Change your knitting style: I'm not bi-stitchual.  I only knit one way - I call it modified English style - the yarn is in my right hand, but instead of throwing it over the needle, I flick it with my index finger.  I have tried to switch to continental, but it doesn't work for me.  I'm set in my ways.  I envy knitters who can alternate easily between English and Continental.  If you try this, be careful about doing it in the middle of a project as your tension may change and so might your gauge.  

  • Change Crafts:  If you are multi-craftual, you can give your hands and wrists a break by focusing on your other crafts for a while.  Crocheting, sewing, writing, drawing, needlepoint, cross-stitch, spinning, dyeing...the fibre community is full of so many talented, multi-craftual people - we really are an amazing bunch of creative talents!

  • Avoidance: If there is a specific part of knitting that triggers your pain, avoid it.  Certain needles antagonize my pain.  I love to knit socks on 9 inch circular needles, but will have wrist pain for days afterwards.  If you have a trigger, try to avoid it.  

Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your hands pain-free while you knit?  Let us know!