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People who have followed my Helenmay Crochet YouTube Channel over the years know that I crochet a lot. In fact, it is rare for me not to have a crochet hook in my hand. I think it is important to let people know about any important health issues to look for, and I am a huge believer in prevention of medical issues whenever possible. I can’t tell you that you will never develop medical issues, but I can tell you about common medical issues to look for and hopefully help prevent. I will also tell you about my personal crochet habits. Personally, I don’t have discomfort. I have had wrist discomfort in the past, but I would always take a couple of days break until the discomfort is gone and then resume crocheting again. I also take frequent breaks from crocheting and do other things. I make exercise a regular part of my weekly routine. I also try my best to eat healthy as well, which is my biggest challenge.
It is very important that you see your medical doctor if you have any persistent pain, or anxiety, or depression. Also, make sure to see your medical doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
For those that crochet/knit a lot, we already know the positive effects that crochet has for us personally. I get a lot of surprised responses that I don’t have wrist discomfort from the amount of crochet that I do. I wanted to share some information that I found in different articles that I have agreed with. Some people may be shocked to find that knitting/crocheting can actually possibly prevent arthritis and tendinitis. Keep in mind that the prevention is only possible if you stop if you get discomfort, perform slow stretching exercises, find crochet/knitting hooks that work best for you, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. For me, I found that crochet hook size makes a dramatic effect on wrist discomfort. If I crochet too much with smaller hooks, this requires a lot more fine motor movement in my wrist and causes discomfort. I have to take a lot more frequent breaks using smaller crochet hooks. Also, yarn drag on the crochet hook (more frequent tugging with the crochet hook) causes more discomfort on the wrist, and I require more frequent breaks.
The following information is from the following article if you would like to read more:
“Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and a knitter, lauds handiwork as a tool for alleviating anxiety and depression. Her husband, Alton Barron, orthopedic surgeon and president of the New York Society for Surgery of the Hand, says knitting can prevent arthritis and tendinitis.”
“Using your hands meaningfully triggers healthy engagement and activity in about 60 percent of your brain, said Alton Barron. The rhythmic, mathematical nature of knitting and crocheting keep the mind absorbed in a healthy way, providing an escape from stressful thoughts but allowing for internal reflection, said Carrie Barron.”
“There’s something so gratifying about taking strings and pieces and making them whole,” she said. “There’s something primitive and innate about that. The fragments of the mind also come together in that process. It’s a parallel process between the mind and the hands.”
A 2011 study from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences showed that doing crafts such as patch-working or knitting during middle age, combined with watching less television, decreased the odds of later cognitive impairment and memory loss by 30 to 50 percent, and promoted the development of neural pathways.
Knitting can also improve mood, according to a 2013 survey of 3,500 knitters published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy. When asked to describe their mood before knitting, 34 percent reported feeling “happy” and 23 percent reported being “a little sad” to “very sad.” When asked to report their mood post-knitting, less than 1 percent remained sad and 81 percent described themselves as “a little happy” to “very happy.”
I can tell you that I feel very happy, especially when I finish a crochet design. This happiness can turn into a crochet addiction. I think it is important to recognize that you need to take breaks and remember to give loved ones your time too. I always explain to people that crochet is like a “really good” book. Once you get started reading, it can be really hard to put the book down, and if you do put it down, you can’t wait to get back to it. Just one more chapter! Just 3 more rows of crochet! Bringing others happiness also can make you very happy. A lot of crocheters/knitters like to crochet for charities.
“It only takes me 10 or 15 minutes to feel the effects,” she said. “It’s the rhythm and focusing all of my attention instead of feeling like I’m being pulled in many directions. Once you start doing it, it’s so rhythmic that it becomes a meditative thing. It really makes my brain calm down.”
Researchers who study therapeutic knitting would tie Wallis’ experience to the “relaxation response” theory conceived by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School in the 1960s. His work, later continued by other scientists, showed that meditative practices can lower heart rates and blood pressure and can alleviate the symptoms associated with hypertension, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Knitting someone a sweater, in addition to saving you from holiday shopping, can also be a great workout for the fingers, hands and forearms, said Alton Barron. Moving the joints of the fingers forces fluid to move in and out of the surrounding, sponge-like cartilage, keeping the joints well-hydrated and minimizing the risk of arthritis, he said.
“If you let a joint sit, not only will it get stiff, but the actual cartilage will lose its structural integrity and break down,” he said. “Most of us grow up thinking the more you use something the more it wears out, but that’s not the case with cartilage.”
For those already suffering from arthritis, Barron recommends soaking hands in warm water to loosen the joints before use, and choosing thicker needles, which are easier to hold.
This article is from Knitting and Crocheting with Arthritis from arthritis connect
“For someone dealing with arthritis pain, needlework may seem like a terrible idea. Arthritis in hands makes precise, repetitive movements a challenge. However, knitters and crocheters can pick up their needles without worry. Hand-focused activities like needlework can still be a great way to socialize, relieve stress, and even improve dexterity.”
“Work out with yarn”
“People usually think of activities like knitting as hobbies, but they actually have a lot in common with working out. When you knit, you’re using the muscles in your hands, wrists and arms. This will increase their strength and dexterity. The Arthritis Foundation recommends looking at needlework as if it’s exercise, and suggests working in short bursts.”
Psychology Today identifies ways that knitting and crocheting may relieve stress. The repetitive nature of knitting forces your mind to focus on what it’s doing, and not on sources of stress. Giving your mind a break from thinking about worries can do wonders for your mental state. There are also other physical aspects of needlework that may help reduce stress. Knitting and crocheting require eye movement that’s similar to a form of psychological treatment called eye movement detestation and reprocessing (EMDR). The idea behind EMDR is that these eye movements make it difficult for the brain to focus on negative or anxiety-inducing thoughts and memories. Moving your eyes side to side as you stitch may make it harder for your mind to be stressed.”
I find that working with the smaller crochet hooks, and yarn thread, causes my eyes to be strained more. If you notice this too, just switch to a project with a larger crochet hook, and go back to the smaller crochet hook project periodically and take a lot of frequent breaks.
“How to knit/Crochet healthily
Be careful to prevent injury when knitting or crocheting with arthritis. Before you begin, warm up your hands and wrists.”
You should always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine. If you are wondering about my exercise routine, I love to jog and go to the gym. It is very important to have the right shoes for running/walking. You don’t want shoes that hurt your feet/knees.
The shoes that I love: running/walking shoes
I also like Hatha Yoga, which I now do whenever I have sore muscles. It helps to release some of the lactic acid build up in the muscles. I am always amazed how good it feels afterward. I have been using this beginner video for years! I only use the Hatha yoga, but others may like the more advanced yoga part of the video. It is also extremely relaxing if you are really stressed. If you try this Hatha yoga, I have found that the best effects are if you find an open space. It is best to be alone and have quiet as you listen to the yoga instructor on the video: Hatha Yoga
Here is a great link for hand exercises for knitters and crocheters
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 performing 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.”
I love this article because it talks about some very common ways that people hold their crochet hooks and how it may cause discomfort: 6 popular crochet holds
The reason why I like this article is that if you are experiencing a lot of discomfort, you may want to try to hold your crochet hook differently. I find that there is no right way or wrong way to hold the crochet hook. It all depends on your comfort and the crochet piece that you are able to create.
I show how I hold my crochet hook in this YouTube video: