How often do you get so excited about a new project, or have a deadline for a gift, and you end up knitting or crocheting for literally hours on end? The next day you were most likely rewarded with stiff aching hands and shoulders. The longer you craft, the worse the inflammation and pain can become, and unfortunately sometimes gets to the point where people have to give up their favorite hobby. We met with Krista Marquardt, MPT from Orthopedic Associates in Port Huron, Michigan to talk to her about what crafters can do to help protect their joints and prevent and relieve pain.
The first thing that Krista pointed out is that when the pain has started, while knitting, crocheting, or anything repetitive, it is already too late. Once the pain and ache hit, the inflammation process has already been triggered. The most important thing to remember when crafting, or doing anything repetitive with your hands , is that you should do nothing for too long. Krista suggested keeping a log as you're are working and note the time it takes before the pain begins and make it a point to stop before that time frame and take a break once you get familiar with how long you can work pain-free.
The next thing Krista suggested was making your crafting easier on your body by making modifications of your crafting environment. Positioning can be improved with the use of a lap desk instead of hunching over your lap, this will bring your work closer to you and cause less neck and shoulder strain. Compression gloves, like these , help to keep the inflammation under control and are made with crafting in mind so they won't interfere with your work. If you have difficulty with pain in gripping a smaller hook or needle, look into a grip you can slide on to make the surface thicker to hold while still allowing you to use the smaller hook you need for your pattern. Krista made a really great suggestion to play with different ways of holding your hook or needle to vary the muscles you are using when you craft.
Krista also gave us some ideas for some things you can do at home to help when the aches and inflammation begin. If you have, or can find, a paraffin wax bath, these are excellent for reducing any swelling and taking the inflammation down. Another option if you don't have a paraffin wax bath is to soak your hands in warm water or use a warm compress to do the same as the wax. Krista also shared a few stretches to help improve mobility in your hands and keep them feeling their best. Each stretch should be able to be held for 20 seconds and be pain-free. These are great options to use as a break when working on a project!
We are so thankful Krista took the time out of her busy schedule to talk to us and we hope you find these tips helpful. Are there any other tools you have found that help making your crafting easier on your joints? Comment below!