I have been to doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physiotherapists and while none of them have been able to make the pain go away completely and stay away, I have taken away something from all of them and come up with my own coping strategy*:
- Take a break: Knitting is meditative. When I am knitting on a project and I find my 'flow', I can happily knit for hours in a state of serene contemplation. This usually results in a sore hand/wrist the next day. I have to mindfully take breaks, walk away and find something else to do. Sometimes I knit by the inch (as in I will knit a certain number of inches then take a break), sometimes I knit with a time limit (as in I will change tasks in one hour, or after this episode or podcast)
- Stretch: This infographic is from www.weareknitters.com . I already do most of these stretches. They help. A lot. I find them especially helpful in the evening or at bedtime since everything seems to seize up while I sleep. Click on the link above to see the stretches in motion and take a look at their excellent website.
- Warm water: Having a shower, a bath or even just washing some dishes in warm water seems to to help the pain and stiffness quite a bit.
- Wear a Brace: I hate this one, but it helps. I have a brace for my right hand that restricts the range of motion and essentially forces me to rest. It's a bitch to knit in, so I don't knit when I wear it, but that's probably the point.
- Medication: I occasionally take anti-inflammatories to help with the discomfort. Not very often though as I do not want to become dependent on them.
Here are some things that other knitters have told me work for them:
- Change your knitting style: I am not bi-stitchual. I only knit one way - I guess I would call it modified English style - the yarn is in my right hand, but instead of throwing it over the needle, I flick it with my index finger. I have tried to switch to continental, but it does not work for me. I am set in my ways. I envy knitters who can alternate easily between English and Continental. If you try this, be careful about doing it in the middle of a project as your tension may change and so might your gauge.
- Change Crafts: I am also not bi-craftual. I am a one-trick pony. I knit. I occasionally crochet an edging or a small embellishment, but that's it. If you are multi-craftual, you can give your hands and wrists a break by focussing on your other crafts for a while. Crocheting, sewing, writing, drawing, needlepoint, cross-stitch, spinning, dyeing...the fibre community is full of so many talented, multi-craftual people - we really are an amazing bunch of creative talents.
- Avoidance: If there is a specific part of knitting that triggers your pain, avoid it. Small circumference needles add to my pain. I love to knit socks on 9 inch circular needles, but will have wrist pain for days afterwards. Other knitters I know have noticed they have similar triggers. Some have issues with small-sized needles, some have certain positions they cannot knit in and one knitter I know cannot use straights without getting elbow pain. I avoid deadline knitting as well as I will marathon knit to make the deadline and end up in pain.
*Disclaimer - I am not a healthcare professional. This post is not intended to replace medical advice. This is my own personal experience and experiences that have been shared with my by others. If you have a knitting related injury/strain/pain you should seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.