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Topic: Knitting Aches: proper posture suggestions?  (Read 2150 times)
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kitschkween
« on: December 22, 2006 12:21:03 PM »

 Cry I try to knit at least an hour a day for my sanity, but IT HURTS SO MUCH!!! My arms tire easily. My shoulders are sore. My neck gets sore from looking down at my project. I think I have some serious carpal tunnel going on. The cramps in my hands and fingers use to go away over night, but not anymore. I love knitting, so I just push through the pain. I like to sit on the couch and knit while I'm watching t.v. or nursing my son.  Is there a way to prevent all this pain? I'm only 22 and I'm afraid I'll be arthritic by next year if I keep going at this rate.   Cry
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2006 12:34:24 PM »

I think you may be knitting for too long at once. Try knitting for 15 mins, take a brake, and then knit more.
You you get pain like this, you need to stop. It's your body trying to tell you that you've done enough.
I know there are glove thingeys sold at Hobby Lobby that I hear are very good for achy fingers and hands. Perhaps you should look into those.
After you back off the knitting, if you keep experiencing this pain, please considering seeing a doctor. Healthy knitters are happy knitters!
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2006 12:45:44 PM »

I actually used to have a similar problem - no matter if it was 5 mins or more, I would get terrible cramps in my hands and fingers, and major pain in my wrists - enought that I gave up knitting for awhile. Then, one day I was a store, and found some yarn I really loved, and decided to give it a go again. This time, I picked up a pair of bamboo needles - and let me tell you - it's made ALL the difference - no pain no matter how long I knit or where I sit. I also now have some Boye aluminum ones that I picked up at walmart because they're hollow in the middle :. light - no problems with those either! So, I would suggest maybe trying a lighter set of needles?
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2006 12:53:11 PM »

I used to get pain like this when I first started crocheting.  Make sure you're actually comfortable in whatever position you're in.  I like to have my back supported, so often, you'll find me on the floor against a wall with my knees up.  When I first started, I put a couple pillows under my arms to support them.  Now, the only time my wrist hurts is if I'm using a small hook for long periods of time.  Make sure you're stretching your back and neck every once in awhile, too.  Too long in one position will make you stiff!  Smiley
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kitschkween
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2006 01:02:08 PM »

i've been using those lion brand plastic ones. i should invest in bamboo.
I actually used to have a similar problem - no matter if it was 5 mins or more, I would get terrible cramps in my hands and fingers, and major pain in my wrists - enought that I gave up knitting for awhile. Then, one day I was a store, and found some yarn I really loved, and decided to give it a go again. This time, I picked up a pair of bamboo needles - and let me tell you - it's made ALL the difference - no pain no matter how long I knit or where I sit. I also now have some Boye aluminum ones that I picked up at walmart because they're hollow in the middle :. light - no problems with those either! So, I would suggest maybe trying a lighter set of needles?
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2006 06:42:32 PM »

I find that if I have to knit (nearly always Wink) it's better to work on a project that allows me to look up and watch TV or something.  I get neck cramps (and then headaches!) all the time if I don't take care to not look down while I'm knitting.

Also, as for posture I find that sitting straight up is better than lounging for my lower back, but my favourite knitting chair is actually the family rocking chair, because I can prop myself back and manage to look at my knitting without  having to look down as much.
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Kittiker
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2006 02:06:09 AM »

Another couple of things which might help:
- put a pillow on your lap and knit with your knitting and wrists supported on that.
- make sure you can see what you are doing. Is the lighting good enough or do you need glasses to see your work? This helps a lot with neck pains and headaches.
- A lot of people find switching between English and Continental helps . Just not on same project.
- Try to teach yourself to knit without looking at your work for simple patterns. This really just takes practice to manage and will help with your posture a lot.
- Don't knit when it hurts!!! It's meant to be fun. (but I do understand!!) Bear in mind that taking a short term break to help your muscles heal is lots better that permanently disabling your knitting bits!!
Hope this helps
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kitschkween
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2006 05:52:51 AM »

thanks so much everybody. i hope it gets better. i'll try not knitting when it hurts. it'll be hard, but it has to be done.
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2006 06:50:10 AM »

Another tip we recommend at the yarn store where I work: ALWAYS USE CIRCULARS! If you are using long straight needles, your hands/wrists are bearing too much weight. Circular needles can always be substituted for straight knitting.

About carpal tunnel syndrome: My husband has it, and his doctor told him blood flow will help immensely. Get up every 30 minutes and walk around the room with your arms waving around and see if it helps.
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kitschkween
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2006 07:00:59 AM »

i never thought to use circs! i actually never tried circs, but now i'm more motivated than ever to.
Another tip we recommend at the yarn store where I work: ALWAYS USE CIRCULARS! If you are using long straight needles, your hands/wrists are bearing too much weight. Circular needles can always be substituted for straight knitting.

About carpal tunnel syndrome: My husband has it, and his doctor told him blood flow will help immensely. Get up every 30 minutes and walk around the room with your arms waving around and see if it helps.
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Hootsister
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2006 07:14:55 AM »

I recently went to see a massage therapist for aching hands/arm/shoulder and it helped tremendously.  In addition to the massage he recommended to take a bath with Epsom salts and to use an electric massager at home.  The one the massage therapist uses between clients is the Wahl 2 speed all-body massager.  I found it online for about $14. 
It is great to use on your hand and forearms (and your shoulders if you can get a partner to help out)

I love the suggestion to use circs, I 'm going to try that.
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sittenknitten
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2006 07:40:00 AM »

I had a lot of the same problems when I was learning to knit, and for about the first year. With the perspective of hindsight, I think I was just too tense, worried about making a mistake or dropping a stitch. It's easier said than done to try to relax when knitting, but I found that over time I've gotten a lot more relaxed  Cheesy about it and no longer have sore muscles in neck, shoulder, arms, hands, etc.

It may also be that I have built strength in the muscles involved (or tolerance, at least).

There are a lot of good suggestions here, I'd say keep knitting making a few modifications and see if you don't do better and better over time.
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sittenknitten
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« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2006 08:20:14 AM »

If you're aching, try looking at other things, too: how are you holding your needles, throwing the yarn, etc.  Some methods are more ergonomic for some people than others--part of why there are different knitting techniques.  I taught myself, because I know it'd tangle the yarn if I followed a more traditional method (mine is more of the combined/knitting heretic type than anything).

A friend swears I'm going to go blind, how can I deal with such small stuff. It made me think.  If anyone's getting headaches from looking at your knitting, you might be straining your eyes.  If necessary, get appropriate reading glasses for your knitting. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2006 08:24:52 AM »

somebody already mentioned Continental knitting, but I have to confirm it.  I used to have shoulder pain, and it stopped when I learned Continental.  It was worth the initial frustration. 

And plain stockinette projects may allow you to look up from the knitting more.

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kitschkween
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2006 08:36:01 AM »

any suggestions on how to hold the needles?
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wolfette
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2006 08:52:14 AM »

 I suggest taking a look at how tight you're knitting. If you tense up trying to keep your stiches tight, you'll feel it in your hands, wrists, shoulders, etc. I had the same problem when I first started knitting fighting to keep stitches on aluminum needles. When I switched to plastic and bamboo needles and I relaxed because I wasn't loosing my stitches, my knitting and my body were more relaxed. Also, expirement holding your needles in different ways. What may work for one person doesn't always work for someone else. Make sure you have good lighting and are sitting comfortably without a lot of distractions, and be mindful of your mood. For me, I can't knit when I'm really tired, distracted, crabby, etc. Hope this helps and good luck.
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wolfette
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2006 08:55:11 AM »

I agree that circs are a big help. The weight of your project is on the cord, not your wrists. I only use straights if I'm working on something small and lightweight.
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knittinfiasco
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« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2006 09:18:33 AM »

I grip them like handle bars (hand over the needles), all fingers supporting.  Most of my movement is from my indexes and thumbs.
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pSTAT3queen
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2006 09:24:29 AM »

make sure you are relaxed when you knit.  i mean your muscles as well as your mood  Smiley
It is kind of like anything that you do that repeats the same motion (like sitting at a desk working on a computer all day), take frequent breaks and be aware of when you start to tense up so that you can focus on relaxing and maintaining a good posture.  I've been knitting for over 20 years now, always use straight needles and don't get any pain even when i knit for hours on end (or i'm so used to any tension/pain that i don't feel it anymore Wink).  Maybe if this is a new thing for you it will just take a little time for you to find out what works for you but try to just relax (so much easier said than done).  not sure if any of my ramblings will help but good luck
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kitschkween
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2006 01:52:13 PM »

i hold it that way too. does it seem like your fingers tire too quickly that way?
I grip them like handle bars (hand over the needles), all fingers supporting.  Most of my movement is from my indexes and thumbs.
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rhiandmoi
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2006 02:14:39 PM »

Along with what other people have said:

1. Put a pillow or two in your lap to hold your work higher so you don't tweak your neck. If you rest your elbows on the pillow that helps too.

2. Try to keep your hands in a straight line with your wrists. If you have to, wear a rigid wrist brace while you knit.

3. If it hurts stop. You can get permament damage, which would be very bad.
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april_cocaine
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2006 03:14:27 PM »

I agree that circs are a big help. The weight of your project is on the cord, not your wrists. I only use straights if I'm working on something small and lightweight.

personally, i find working with circs much harder, and i often experience pain in my wrists when using them. i only feel comfortable using straights and i can knit for hours with them too.
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« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2006 03:41:00 PM »

i had bad wrist/ shoulder pain. I learnt to knit continental (actually, i'm  a bastard-child knitter that mixes up regular, continental and knitting backwards at will. luckily my gauge doesn't seem to be affected). That helped quite a bit.

Also, i get more pain the larger the needles/ yarn are. So for me, fingering weight is nice and comfy.

Thirdly, I started seeing a chiro (unrelated - my boyfriend's sister was a trainee, who needed patients). She massaged my forearms and they bruised like mad! so next time i went she whipped out a little flat stone thing called a gua sha/ gwa sha. She put oil on my arms, then rubbed with this stone so hard that these little bright red pinpoint bruises came up. Hurts like hell at the time, but afterwards it was SOOOOO much less painful. so every week i got a gwa sha session, and after about a month she couldn't bring up any bruises anymore, and i wasn't in any pain.

Turns out gwa sha is an alternative Chinese therapy (thanks google), though its effects were never explained to me in the context of stirring up stagnant chi. i was just told that the stone allowed you to massage really hard, which increased bloodflow to the area (hence bruises) and the extra blood helped repair tiny little tears in muscles. worked really well for me.
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melosond
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2006 06:08:49 PM »

I find stretching frequently helps. Lean your head side to side, forward and back, massage your neck with your hands. SNBN has a couple of stretch recommendations, too. The only one I can remember at the moment is reach your arm out in front of you, palm down. With your other hand press your fingers back, stretching out your palm and wrist. Not too much, though! Make circles with your wrists -- anything that hurts, stretch often!

Good luck!
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« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2006 07:35:46 PM »

And remember to keep your shoulders down, keeping your wrists and hands aligned for wrist pain. Anything you do should be done wit proper posture Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: December 24, 2006 06:08:13 AM »

i hold it that way too. does it seem like your fingers tire too quickly that way?
I grip them like handle bars (hand over the needles), all fingers supporting.  Most of my movement is from my indexes and thumbs.

No.  Are you forcing the needles through your stitches?

rhiandmoi,
I know an orthopaedic surgeon of 25+ years.  He has always said, if it's a joint injury, resting will heal it.  If your pain continues after resting, it's not an othropaedic problem, and you want to get checked out by the doctor for other health problems.
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kitschkween
« Reply #26 on: December 24, 2006 08:54:03 AM »

do all chiropractors do that? i would really like to try that!
i had bad wrist/ shoulder pain. I learnt to knit continental (actually, i'm  a bastard-child knitter that mixes up regular, continental and knitting backwards at will. luckily my gauge doesn't seem to be affected). That helped quite a bit.

Also, i get more pain the larger the needles/ yarn are. So for me, fingering weight is nice and comfy.

Thirdly, I started seeing a chiro (unrelated - my boyfriend's sister was a trainee, who needed patients). She massaged my forearms and they bruised like mad! so next time i went she whipped out a little flat stone thing called a gua sha/ gwa sha. She put oil on my arms, then rubbed with this stone so hard that these little bright red pinpoint bruises came up. Hurts like hell at the time, but afterwards it was SOOOOO much less painful. so every week i got a gwa sha session, and after about a month she couldn't bring up any bruises anymore, and i wasn't in any pain.

Turns out gwa sha is an alternative Chinese therapy (thanks google), though its effects were never explained to me in the context of stirring up stagnant chi. i was just told that the stone allowed you to massage really hard, which increased bloodflow to the area (hence bruises) and the extra blood helped repair tiny little tears in muscles. worked really well for me.
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kitschkween
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2006 08:56:53 AM »

i'm not sure if i force through or not. how can you tell?
i hold it that way too. does it seem like your fingers tire too quickly that way?
I grip them like handle bars (hand over the needles), all fingers supporting.  Most of my movement is from my indexes and thumbs.

No.  Are you forcing the needles through your stitches?

rhiandmoi,
I know an orthopaedic surgeon of 25+ years.  He has always said, if it's a joint injury, resting will heal it.  If your pain continues after resting, it's not an othropaedic problem, and you want to get checked out by the doctor for other health problems.
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kitschkween
« Reply #28 on: December 24, 2006 08:58:13 AM »

you all have been so helpful. i ordered the Handeze gloves from Joanne's yesterday. I hope those and stretching will help.
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knittinfiasco
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« Reply #29 on: December 24, 2006 07:51:47 PM »

For me, if I knit too tight, it's a struggle to get the second needle under the stitch, I might end up holding the stubborn stitch in place (thus the sore fingers--poking myself), and the color starts wearing off on the aluminum needles.  Roll Eyes Tongue

There's an article on knitty.com about loosening up your knitting stylehttp://www.knitty.com/issuespring05/FEATloosenup.html.
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soft_anonymous
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2006 08:30:56 PM »

First off, if you think you have carpal tunnel, you need to go have your hands looked at! The sooner it's diagnosed and you have it corrected (minor surgery), the better chance you have at no nerve damage and a full recovery! If you do already know that you have it, (and even if you don't) try sleeping in ACE wrist braces. I have carpal tunnel and am lacking the $$ to have it corrected, and I sleep in the braces every night. It helps amazlingly! The reason the braces help is because they keep your wrist in a healthy position. Having your wrist flexed too far forward or back does serious damage.

That would be my main suggestion. Deal with the carpal tunnel, and try sleeping in the braces when your hands are bothering you. Also, what everyone else has said. Use light needles. Try and watch the way you are holding them, and take frequent breaks.

Let me know if you have any questions!
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soozeq
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2006 09:13:27 PM »

Most carpal tunnel is actually tight muscles in the arms, necks and shoulders. A good massage, seated or on the table, can help enoromously. Try self massage too, especially the lower arm muscles near the elbow, and the upper arms. Tight muscles will squeeze the nerves and blood vessels causing numbness, tingles and a lack of blood flow.

sue
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sue
meriellyn
« Reply #32 on: December 26, 2006 11:40:24 AM »

Some of this has already been suggested but...

Breaks with lots of arm, wrist and finger stretching and massaging ever 15-20 min. I do best when I remember to put down the needles regularly, stretch well, and do a lot of rolling my wrists around and flexing my hande/fingers.

Try different methods of holding your yarn and/or needles. Find something really comfortable and that doesn't make you tense or hold thigs too tightly. Can be a bit awkward for a while but you'll get used to a different method after a while. You could try Continental or combination knitting. I can't attest to these personally though. I find I just don't like Continental much.

Experiment with lots of different needles makes and materials. Different brands of metal needles have different weights that can make a difference. Bamboo can be easier on your hands. There are lots of wood options as well (birch, rosewood, ebony). May cost a bit more but if it allows you to knit pain-free, it's worth it. You might also try the super flexible Bryspun needles. Or plastic, casien, resin, etc. Try circulars, or shorter straights. Different circs have different weights and needle lengths so experiment until you find something that works for you. They're not cheap but Addis are super light and great to work with. There are so many options out there, something's bound to work for you.

Do more simple stitch patterns you don't have to look at. Practice in stockinette or garter stitch just feeling the stitches without looking down at your work. This is easiest with some good quality, non-splitty, medium weight wool. Takes time to learn but is so helpful once you do.

Support your elbows and back well. Don't hunch over. I'm bad about this and it makes my back hurt across my shoulders after a while. I often don't notice until the following day.

Try propping your pattern up on one of those book holders or even a music stand. That way you can keep it at eye level.

Find a good chiropractor and have your back adjusted. I find this helps a TON with neck pain especially and also really helps with posture. A regular massage helps a lot too. Or an adjustment then a masage. Mmmm.... I need to do that again ASAP. Many chiropractors' offices have massage therapists on staff so you can make the appointments together and a lot of insurance plans will cover a portion of the massage as well.

After the fact, anti-inflamatories can help. Don't take 'em before hand though. Like going to the gym, it can help to prevent swelling afterward but if you take something before hand you might not know you're hurting yourself. Pain means stop, or do something differently. It's your body telling you something is wrong and shouldn't be ignored.

Do you do a lot of typing or using a mouse and such? You might need to adjust how you do other things like this that could be making the general problem worse. Good posture, a good chair, and frequent breaks while doing computer work and such can help you stay in better shape for knitting in the first place.
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soozeq
« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2006 12:12:16 PM »

Quote
Do you do a lot of typing or using a mouse and such? You might need to adjust how you do other things like this that could be making the general problem worse.

Oh, that's a good one. I developed tendonitis in my wrist partly due to not watching how I held my hand using the mouse. Make sure your wrist is straight and not bent down with the hand up. That's really hard on the arm and wrist. There's a pattern for a knitted wrist rest in the Completed projects board somewhere.

sue
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sue
kitschkween
« Reply #34 on: December 26, 2006 01:16:10 PM »

i am on the computer half the day. i try to use the mouse with my left hand, and usually type with my left hand b/c the baby is usually in my right lap. i have started to teach myself continental. it's coming along slowly, but hopefully i can get faster soon.
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