It's getting close to that time of year when holiday crafting can take over your entire life. I know many knitters who take on almost more than they can chew, seaming and weaving and blocking into the wee hours before the gift is to be given. This kind of intense marathon of handwork can be exhilarating, but the many hours of knitting and crocheting can also leave your hands in excruciating pain.
Let me help you alleviate some of that pain with some simple hand exercises for knitters and crocheters that will help to loosen those stiff hands.
These hand stretches (for knitters and crocheters alike) will keep your hands not only from aching after hours with the needles, but also to maintain flexibility and proper circulation.
Wrist and forearm stretches
Sitting at a table, extend your arms pressing your fingers against the edge of the table. Keeping your hand flat, bend wrists. Your fingers should be pointing to the ceiling. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds. Rest and repeat the stretch. Another version of this stretch is pointing your fingers down toward the floor.
What's great about this stretch is that it can be done in almost any situation. You can sit on the floor and stretch your forearms by placing palms on the floor and stretching as directed or while standing by extending one arm, keeping your palm flat, and using your other hand to gently and manually stretch your forearm.
1. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing you. Turn palms to face out and stretch out your arms. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds. Rest and Repeat.
2. With the opposite hand, grasp one finger at the base and firmly tug to the tip. Repeat this for each finger.
3. Placing your hand palm down on the edge of a table, use your other hand to manually rotate your thumb. Do this in both clockwise and counterclockwise motions. Repeat on each hand.
Overall Hand Health
Our hands are obviously the most important tool we use when doing handwork.
Here are a few more ideas for your overall hand health:
- Start each knit or crochet session with an arm and hand stretching exercise.
- If you will be engaging in a marathon knit or crochet session, set a timer for every half hour to an hour. When the timer goes off, stop and stretch again. Vary the time based on your own comfort level.
- Consider trying ergonomic tools. Essentially, ergonomics is preforming a task in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Ergonomic tools allow you to hold your tool in a more natural pose, therefore reducing the unnatural strain on your hand while working.
Using these stretches and remembering these tips can help you avoid hand pain all together. However, if you've already overdone it a bit, ice is a great anti-inflammatory. Quick ice baths (10 seconds or so) for your hands can help ease the pain and reduce inflammation.
I hope you will find some relief with these tips but remember, especially if you have preexisting health problems or are having consistent pain, consult your doctor.