Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Ergonomics of Knitting

I was reading a blog comment recently from a knitter who suffers from Repetitive Stress Injury. She was saying how important it is for her to rest and care for her hands and arms so that she can still enjoy her favourite craft. It got me thinking.

RSI is a very common modern day ailment. Since the advent of the computer, more and more people have become subject to movements that are so repetitive that they eventually cause pain and injury. As knitters, we are also open to injury. Knitting requires us to make the same movements with our hands again and again to create our garments. We often sit for long periods of time with heavy amounts of fabric hanging from our hands too. Over time this can lead to pain, not just in our hands and elbows, but in our backs and shoulders. If we are not aware of what we are doing, then it can lead us to a life of immense pain and even surgery.

So, how do we look after ourselves so that we can enjoy our craft well into our twilight years?

I found a number of interesting articles on this subject when I started surfing the internet:

Knittingabout.com had lots of good tips in this piece;

Accidental Yarnover has some valuable ideas here;

And there's a great discussion of this subject here at Knitters Review.

My conclusion is that it's very important to:

a) Get your posture right. Sit comfortably with both feet on the ground and make sure you have adequate lighting.

b) Relax!!!

c) Take regular breaks, setting a timer as a reminder if necessary

d) Keep your joints warm - use wristwarmers or salve to help

e) Use circular needles whenever possible as they easily hold the weight of the fabric in your lap rather than your hands

f) Work on a variety of projects using different sized needles.

The last one is my particular favourite. I aways knew there was a good reason why I have so many WIP's!!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you got any tips or tricks you'd like to share? E-mail me at the above address or leave a message in the comments. Thanks.


Rudee said...

That's the second piece this week that I've read talking about having more than one wip going at a time. The other one was in Interweave Knits. OK! I'll do it.

On a more serious note, if I'm knitting in my favorite spot for too long, I get numbness in my fingertips because my elbow is pressing against the armrest and must be pressing against the nerve in the joint. When that happens, I have to put the work down for awhile. I should find a new perch.

Kimmie said...

My lower back has been objecting whenever I sit to knit these days .... but I think I will try it again and make myself take get up and walk around breaks .... it may be just the sitting still for so long that's killing me. Thanks for the info!

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