How to Prevent RSI Caused by Knitting

If you have caught on the knitting bug for years now and are currently indulging in a knitting frenzy, then you are probably quite familiar with the claim that knitting indeed is one of the most relaxing hobbies. This is quite true to some extent, and you might even be all too eager to attest to this popular statement. However, you may find it hard to believe that the activity that you so thoroughly enjoy can pose a potential danger on your health. Remember that saying about too much of a good thing can be bad? This certainly applies in the case of prolonged knitting experience.

The culprit? Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

If you have heard about the carpal tunnel syndrome, RSI is somewhat similar to that, and generally affects the neck, arms, wrists, shoulders and the back of the knitter. The pain that is associated to RSI is largely brought about by the repetitive performance of certain body motions that would trigger some discomforts to your other body parts. Extended and too frequent knitting experience often causes pain on the wrists and hands as well as the neck area. The force used in gripping the needles and improper posture will eventually take its toll on the human body. Not something that you look forward in your knitting experience, right?

So how do you prevent this?

Prevention has always been easier than treatment. This does not mean you have to give up your craft altogether, but it certainly calls you to take everything in moderation. Heath experts have actually set a guideline to ensure people to have a healthier knitting experience.

What you can do is set a timer, to remind you to take a 10-minute break for every 45 minutes work on the needles. In between, you can simply get up and slowly walk around or even drink a glass of water. It is also advised to use circular needles, especially if you are will be working on large projects. This will help distribute the weight evenly and save your wrist from damage. Of course, you would also need to maintain proper posture since you are sitting for prolonged number of hours. You can also use a pillow to prop your tired arms and somehow support your body weight.

The symptoms that can be attributed to RSI are numbness, pain, stiffness, and general discomfort. While this ailment may far from being considered a life threatening complication, its best step back a little from those needles and take some precautionary care so you will be well enough to enjoy more knitting in the future.

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  1. To address hand and wrist issues, I always have several projects going at the same time and switch around often. Each project has different weight yarn and different size needles so my hand and wrist movements change. My projects range from fingerling or fine on US needle 3-4, DK/light to medium worsted on US needle 5-9, and bulky/super bulky on larger needle. If I begin to feel discomfort, I switch to one of the other projects. Your suggestion to set a timer as a reminder to get up and move around is a good one.

  2. Yes, I am enduring a fairly bad bout of rsi at the moment. Entirely my own fault I have to confess – I rushed a large project (due to extended lockdown restrictions cancelling my dance classes) and I ignored the persistent click in my back. Also it involved a very easy (and therefore fast) stitch so went at it like the blazes. Now a bit incapacitated with neck and shoulder pain (oh yes, I solved the wrist rsi years ago …) and have learned my lesson. Now restrictions extended again and this time I shall have to take out my frustration on my hand sewing. Grrr.

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