Monday, October 8, 2012

Mentally Soothing vs. Physically Painful

What if someone told you that the very thing you LOVE will also be the very thing that threatens your livelihood? The moment we get our hands on a pair of needles and a skein of yarn, a knitter is totally engulfed in the current project and under a state of relaxation. Nothing else can penetrate our thoughts. But in the back of my mind, I can't help but think about how often arthritis is associated with knitting. A little light was shed on this by the article Knitting Health-How to Keep on Knittin' and Feel Great on the Blue Castle Fiber Arts webpage.

The article highlights that 'knititation', a combination of knitting and meditation, relieves stress and provides a sense of calm for knitters. The reason for the peaceful state of knitting is due to the repeating motions of the craft that is also found in the same brain wave forms of meditation.

But the reading also mentions that knitting is NOT the cause of arthritis or joint pain. Whew. You can pick up your needles off the floor now. Although it is not the actual cause, which happens to be diet, knitting adds to these conditions when a great amount of time is spent. The article gives the following tips for knitters with conditions such as arthritis:

          "1. Don't overdo knitting if you are in a lot of joint pain but don't
           stop altogether either. Many knitters find that doing some knitting
           actually improves flexibility and mobility of the joints. Also take
           breaks to stretch your fingers.

           2. Try different types of needles. Generally materials with a bit of

           flexibility are better such as wood, bamboo and casein but not metal."
In fact,  Dr. Hibberd from NewsMax Health supports the claims made by the article. He suggests that knitting prevents the advancement of arthritis with a few modifications.

           "...some tips that have been suggested are to try alternatives to metal 
           needles, such as birch or bamboo needles, which are lightweight and
           warmer to the touch. Try sticking to knitting with wool or wool blends,
           as wool is elastic and more forgiving than cotton and other fibers, which
           makes them easier to manipulate. Also try knitting flat on a circular needle.
           Even if you do not need to make a tube, the circular shape allows the
           weight of the sweater to fall in your lap, not off your wrist. Do not knit
           continuously, and take frequent breaks."

I thought I would share this piece of information because it is better to be aware of possible complications that may arise from what we spend hours upon hours doing. This post is not just for knitters who may have these conditions but it extends to all ages and spectrums in the knitting world. I, a new knitter, experienced a bit of stiffness when I first started knitting but I figured it was because of my tight hold. Now I realize a looser grip and a break here and there wouldn't hurt.

Awareness is greater than being clueless. Fortunately, it is possible for knitters to enjoy the wonderful amenities of the mentally soothing abilities of knitting without having to bear physical pain. So, don't be afraid, pick up your WIPs and continue while keeping in mind the previous tips.

[The best of both worlds is possible. Happy Knitting!]


  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog. The tips were amazing, arthritis does tend to run in my family as well, but nobody knits, so I like how you killed the stereotype about knitting. your first sentence was awesome as well. I really liked how you ryhmed at the end I don know if that was intentional. If it was Kudos, your a natural Dr Seuss, just kidding. :)

    1. Thank you. I hoped my readers would enjoy my posts and I appreciate the positive feedback. The rhyming was unintentional, LOL, but I don't mind being a well known children's author for the day. =]

  2. Arthritis is always on my mind with what I do as well. The repeated motion and constant stress that is put on my joints makes me wonder what will happen later in life.

    I already have diagnosed joint erosion on both hands, both shoulders, and both hips. I know I can't do what I do forever, but it doesn't stop me. It slows me down, sometimes for a week when I wade fish in cold water or when I spend lots of time in water under 90 degrees.

    I notice the dexterity in my hands diminishing which makes tying flies really difficult. I hope you are able to continue with your past-time for years to come. I know I will not stop doing what I enjoy. I just might have to start taking a couple more Aleeve everyday.

  3. I totally understand your concern and I applaud your perseverance for continuing to do what you love despite your condition. Maybe something that might help alleviate the pain is continuing your past-time in moderation or taking breaks while tying flies. I don't believe you should completely stop so, if a couple more Aleeve helps you, sure but take into considerations some of the tips in my post.