Experiencing Pain While Crocheting? Try These Tips
Sometimes, crochet hurts.
Many crocheters experience pain while crocheting. We want to spend as much time as we want immersed in our craft, but how can we avoid pain while crocheting? I used to feel a good amount of fatigue and pain while stitching, but through my own experience and consulting expert advice, I found ways to avoid it. Read on to discover how to keep crocheting and take care of your hand health at the same time.
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Warming Up and Stretching
Crocheting is a physical activity! Although we are using micro-movements, crochet and other needle crafts is still a physical activity and fine motor skill. Make sure that your hands, wrists and elbow joints are warm and gently stretch before you begin.
Use Ergonomically Designed Crochet Hooks
You can use crochet hooks with ergonomic handles to alleviate pain and fatigue while crocheting. Some crochet hooks come with soft rubber handles, while others have an ergonomic shape to make holding the handle of the hook less fatiguing. Some popular brands are the soft handled Amour hooks and the egg shaped Furls hooks. I have both types and I love the Furls for the regular and larger sized hooks. The soft handled hooks are terrific for the smaller hooks.
Take a Break From Crocheting
Any prolonged period of time spent making small repeated movements can result in a repetitive strain injury (RSI). It’s easy to become immersed in an enjoyable crochet project – before you know it, the hours have flown by and you are feeling the sore muscles in your hands, wrists, elbows or back. Know your limits and take breaks while working: a 10 minute break for every 45 – 60 minutes of crochet is a good guideline. Also, limit the amount of hours per day that you spend crocheting and even take days off. As tempting as it is to continue on for long periods, stopping before you feel pain will allow you to keep stitching for many more days and years to come.
Support and the Best Posture for Crochet
Sit in a comfortable chair that provides good support for your back. A chair with supportive arm rests is ideal. This will enable you to hold your work at a good height for you to see your work, and prevent stress on the arms, back and neck.
What is the Best Way to Hold Your Crochet Hook?
Spend some time trying different techniques for holding your hook and working yarn. The two basic methods for crocheting are known as the “pencil” hold (hook held as if you were holding a pencil or pen to write) and the “knife” method (the hook held overhand as if using a butter knife). You may find that one or the other hold is less problematic for you. My grandmother was a “pencil” crocheter and taught me that way when I learned crochet basics. After coming back to the craft as an adult, I adopted the “knife” hold as it seemed like an easier way to control my stitches as a re-beginner. But I found that I could not work for very long periods without experiencing wrist pain. After noticing that some of my favorite crochet influencers used the pencil hold, I decided to try it. It worked like a charm! I can now crochet without pain and for longer periods than I used to. Changing your hold may be the answer for you as well.
Crochet Tension: Tight vs Loose Crocheting
Are you a “tight” crocheter? Some of us have a tendency to crochet very tight stitches and hold the hook and yarn with a lot of tension in our hands and wrists. The widely held belief is that everyone falls into one of two types of crocheters: tight crocheters and loose crocheters. The standard advice is to change hook size if you can’t match the gauge on a particular project. But I agree with crochet designer and teacher Dora Ohrenstein: your crochet style isn’t written in stone! You can learn how to crochet with what she calls “flexible tension” and tighten up or loosen up as your project or your body’s signals call for it. (You can read more about this concept in Ohrenstein’s excellent book The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop.) I think that tight crocheters can especially benefit from learning to work with a more relaxed grip.
Be careful about how you hold the working yarn (the yarn as it comes out from your ball or skein of yarn). We all wrap the working yarn around our non-dominant hand in different ways. Experiment with different ways to hold and wrap the working yarn. Be sure that the way you wrap the working yarn around your fingers is not placing too much tension and stress on your hands.
For further reading:
“Needling Concerns About Arthritis”
“Dora’s Crochet Corner- A Stitch Red Crochet Pattern and the Benefits of Flexible Tension“