I’ve been knitting for several years now (over 20 total, but very heavily the past 6 or so) and have noticed an uptick in achy hands and sore fingers. I used to go to bed most nights with my tired hands feeling (and looking) like claws… not cool! Not to mention that knitting only amplifies the tightness in my neck and shoulders from having a sedentary occupation. So I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks to help combat and prevent pain, cramping, and soreness of knitters everywhere! I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.
Tip #1: Get up!
This is a tough one for me, since I’m usually binge watching Netflix while I knit. It’s easy to just hit “next episode” and keep on knitting! But lately I’ve forced myself to get up at least after every episode. When the credits roll at the end of Gilmore Girls (has anyone watched the reunion? I have one episode left and I’m not sure how I feel about it), I get up, stretch, walk around, grab a glass of water… just spend a minute or two out of the curled-up-on-the-couch-knitting position! If you’re not a binge watcher and you instead like to read, ride in the car, or just sit in quiet solitude while you knit, you could set an alarm every 30-45 minutes to remind you to get up and move around!
Knitting & binge watching Gilmore Girls before the reunion
Tip #2: Stretch!
About a year ago, I started taking classes in American Sign Language (ASL). The teacher starts each class doing hand stretches. I’m not sure why it had never dawned on me before to stretch my hands before, during, and after knitting! But now, I take a few minutes before I pick up the needles to stretch my hands, neck and shoulders. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRg4Gl22id4) is for sign language interpreters, but we knitters use many of the same movements! It’s kind of a long video, but you can make a note of which stretches work best for you! I do them before I knit, during the breaks I mentioned above, and after I’m done knitting for the night. I use to get bad hand cramps when I wasn’t even knitting! These stretches have helped reduce those cramps and made my hands feel much better.
Tip #3: Switch up your gauge!
If you’re a sock or lace knitter who’s constantly knitting on tiny needles, my hat is off to you! I, however, am not that girl. In my opinion, it’s good to have a couple of projects (in my case 8… seriously, my WIPs are out of control) going at different gauges. While working super long rows of Sunwalker (on size US 5 needles), my hands would cramp up. Did you ever see that episode of Friends – The One Where Joey Dates Rachel – when Chandler plays the video game so much his hand freezes up into a claw? Yeah, that’s how I feel. My solution is to have a project nearby, even a simple hat on size US 15s, that I can work on when I need to switch it up. I may put aside a WIP for several days, work on something at a different gauge, stretch, and come back to it when I feel my hands are ready. If you’re a monogamous knitter who struggles with sore hands, you may have to cheat just a little & cast on something new!
Aforementioned Sunwalker by Melanie Berg
Tip #4: Switch hands!
Andrea Mowry (@dreareneeknits on Instagram) recently posted about “flipping your WIP,” i.e. knitting English if you’re a continental knitter or vice versa. I’m an English knitter and continental feels very foreign to me; I do enjoy using it when doing 2-handed colorwork. I have decided to follow Andrea’s advice by casting on a project specifically to knit continental! This will allow me to practice a new technique – I especially need help with purling! – and give my hands a break. My left hand typically has a death grip on the needle, so switching up which hand my yarn is in should help alleviate that! Andrea suggests flipping one day a week, so I’m going to give it ago! Use her tag #flipthatwip on Instagram!
I practiced continental on this basic, stockinette hat pattern!
I hope you’ve found some of my tips helpful! I’d love to hear what you do to switch it up and keep from getting sore while knitting! Leave a comment and let me know 🙂
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance about a specific medical condition.