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29 Tips for Avoiding Knitting Pain

By: Caitlin Eaton, Editor, AllFreeKnitting.com
29 Tips for Avoiding Knitting Pain
29 Tips for Avoiding Knitting Pain
This image courtesy of AllFreeKnitting.com

Did you know that knitting tension problems can lead to pain during or after knitting?  Wouldn't it be nice to get rid of that pain or avoid it all together?  Now you can!  Enjoy 29 reader-submitted tips for avoiding joint pain while knitting.  From taking regular breaks, stretching and using muscle-relaxing creams, you'll find out all the best tips from the experts: real knitters like you and me!  Say goodbye to your knitting tension problems by following these simple, quick-and-easy tips.
 
As a knitter, one of the things I struggle with the most is keeping myself pain-free during an extended knitting session.  Whether it's forgetting to stretch, not taking enough breaks or knitting tension problems, sometimes knitting leaves me feeling tired and sore. Do you have this problem too?  You're not alone!  Joint pain and numbness during or after knitting is not uncommon, but it can be avoided with a few careful steps.  Because the readers of AllFreeKnitting are always a wealth of information when it comes to tips for beginner knitters, we turned to you for your best proven methods for avoiding knitting-related pain.  Below is a collection of your responses.  Together, we can make knitting for beginners - and advanced knitters - an easy and painless process!

29 Tips for Avoiding Knitting Pain from Knitting Tension Problems

Read below to find ways to release tension while knitting.

  1. Make sure that you take frequent breaks! - Diana K.

  2. Don’t rest your arms on a surface, like a table top or the arms of a chair; this puts pressure on the nerves in your arms. - Ann B.

  3. When you get to the end of a row of a bigger project, rotate your wrists once counter clockwise and once clockwise. If it is a smaller project, do the same thing after 5 rows. - Becky C.

  4. Make sure you take breaks, support your arms and use a hand brace. Take stretching breaks for your fingers, wrists and arms. - Linda R.

  5. Keep your back straight and your shoulders down. - Brianna

  6. I wear a wrist brace at night to guarantee a pain-free day of knitting when I wake up. - Robin

  7. I squeeze and release a small rubber ball a few times to relax and ease the tension in my hands and fingers. - Anna Marie G.

  8. Stretch, stretch, stretch. Hold arm straight forward, palm down, pull fingers of hand up and back gently with opposite hand.  Repeat with other arm. Then palm up, push hand/arm down and back gently and repeat with other arm.  Also make sure to get up and get the blood flowing in your legs and buttocks! Do some stretches while standing. And don't forget to drink plenty of water. Keep hydrated. - Kay

  9. Take a break every 30-45 minutes and do some hand/wrist stretches. - Cynthia W.

  10. Drape a warm rice bag/heating pad around your neck and shoulders. This relieves tension build up. - Helen

  11. Avoid painful fingertips by using flexible thimbles on each index finger while knitting. - Jeannie M.

  12. Flex your fingers every so often and make sure to put your knitting down for a few minutes. Make sure your elbows are supported to avoid pain or too much muscle tension. Free movement of your arms, I think, is crucial. - B.J.M.

  13. Keep hands nimble by using a squeeze toy, like a can of very thick putty.  - Wil B.

  14. Shake your hands out to loosen them up after knitting awhile. - Jessica K.

  15. Put a pillow or throw on my lap when I settle in for a long knitting session. - Mariann F.

  16. As soon as you feel a tingling in your arms, stop and do something else for a few minutes - change the clothes in the washer to the dryer or do any chore that only takes a few minutes. - Mary T.

  17. Stretch your fingers with a rubber band (fingertips together, rubber band around the outside and push against the band by opening up your hand). - Jennie

  18. Set a timer for every hour and make sure to get up, stretch, get a drink or take a bathroom break! - Becky R.

  19. Support your arms on a pillow to relieve any pull or strain in your shoulders. - Joyce D.

  20. Change the way you hold your needles to reduce tension. For example, avoid knitting with long needles; they can be too heavy and can cause more stress on the hands. If your project requires longer needles, make sure they are interchangeable ones. If you have a lot of stress in your hands, try switching to the Continental knitting method; this is proven to be easier on the hands. Lastly, alter the way you hold your yarn. For knitting: I call my hold the hook / chop stick method. My right hand looks like I am holding a crochet hook in the underhanded position, and my left looks like I am holding chopsticks with the yarn as the top stick and the needle as the bottom stick.  For crochet, same thing, except the left hand has the yarn as the top stick and I hold the work in the bottom stick position.  - Jessica N.

  21. Cut off the tips of a pair of battery-operated warming gloves and wear them as crafters gloves while knitting to reduce pain. - Merri Orgeman

  22. Work in an area that is warm. Lots of folks have craft areas set up in basements or garages that don’t have sufficient heating. Being cold just makes your muscles tense up that much more as you work. - KittenWithAWhiplash

  23. Wear fingerless craft gloves that have a good, supporting wrist band while you’re doing your handwork. if your fingers numb or your wrists hurt, use your fave pain relief cream and rub it on your wrists. - Ritainalaska

  24. Before knitting, and as often as you feel necessary, put your fingertips together and push them against each other, as if a spider is doing pushups on a mirror. Also rotate  wrists often to loosen them up. Having a comfortable place to rest your arms is also important as well as making sure you maintain good posture. - Beverlee C.

  25. Comfortable chair, good lighting, frequent breaks to stretch shoulders, neck, arms and fingers and wooden needles! - Lynda B.

  26. Two things that have helped me: concentrating on learning to crochet/knit in a more relaxed way (not keeping tension in my hands and arms and paying attention to position), and using a proper chair that supports my back, neck and arms.- Nancy

  27. Do daily exercises using rubber putty and a tension band. - Lena C.

  28. I use Voltaren rub. - Diane

  29. Tiger Balm muscle rub is very nice to use on your sore spots, even Bengay helps! Also, those Ace wraps for wrists work well. - Joann

How do you avoid knitting pain?

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These are such great tips. I've had sore arms and fingers from knitting too many times, but somehow stretching never occurred to me... Duh! I'll try next time!

These tips are a great help, as is the suggestion about tension. I would add the warning about juniper cream,though anyone with seizure disorders or Sjogren's should avoid it at all costs as juniper, fennel, anise, and a few other herbs provoke seizures with juniper at the top of the list

These are great tips. I would add another, which is watch your stitch tension while you knit. In particular, most people tend to cast on very tightly, and bind off tightly too. So try to be relaxed overall and not pull your stitches too tight to give your hands a break.

Thanks for these great tips, I love knitting and crocheting and often when I am working on a large project keep going for longer than I should to try and get parts finished. I will definitely be trying some of these tips and investing in a stress ball or similar to help relieve the tension. For anyone who has used a wrist brace is there a particular brand or type that you find most comfortable?

i have been a massage therapist for 13 years as well as too much time on computer whenever i go to do knitting or crafts that involve hand work my hands cramp up for all my hand arm pain i use juniper cream and 31 herbs it takes the pain and discomfort away naturally thanks swiss! http://heart4health.swissjust-usa.com/Pages/Homepage.aspx

Tylenol or Motrin, wrist support, aspercream, comfie chair, stretches, breaks... that's what I do

http://heart4health.swissjust-usa.com/Pages/Homepage.aspx its natural 31 herbs and juniper cream!!!

I will give my mother this 29 tips of avoiding pain, I am sure this will be benefited.

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