Knitting & Repetitive Stress


Between preparing for the holiday sales rush and designing new products for Yarn Twisters, I have been knitting up a storm in the last few months.  Unfortunately, this has caused me to develop some pain in my hands.  For those of you that don’t know me, I am only in my 30s… and I plan to be knitting a long time, so this scared me.


So, I went into research mode and I thought I’d share a little bit of what I learned. Below are a few of the websites that I discovered during my research, but let’s tackle some basic facts first.


Some of the most common causes of repetitive stress injuries (RSI) in knitters are:


  1. Sitting for long periods using poor posture,
  2. Gripping the needles too tightly, and
  3. Putting too much weight on the wrists with a large project.


One of my biggest problems is gripping the needles too tightly as I work.  I also do a good amount of typing at work, which likely compounds the problem.  I have occasional back pain as well, so I am very conscious of my back posture when I knit.


There are many ways to help prevent repetitive stress, and one of them is crafting in moderation. (Heh, that’ll be the day.) Here are some other recommendations I found:


  • Take breaks. Take a 10-minute break every 30 to 45 minutes. Get up, walk around, do some stretches (hand and body!), have a drink of water (hydration helps keep joints healthy!), and stop when you feel tired. This can go a long way when you are working on longer projects.
  • Use circular needles for big projects. Afghans, long scarves, and sweaters are heavy, and holding the whole project on one straight needle will put a lot of strain on your wrists. Using a circular needle, even if your project is straight, can help distribute the weight and give your wrists a break.
  • Use large needles. Large needles are easier to grip and will put less strain on your hands than small needles. Of course, not all projects can be accomplished on large needles, but if you’ve had an injury in the past then it can’t hurt to choose projects that are knit on large needles to give your hands a break.
  • Sit up straight. Posture is very important when you’re sitting for long periods in the same position, so sit up straight and keep your feet on the floor. If you have already experienced problems with RSI, you can also prop your arms on pillows or arm rests to further support the body and also to distribute the weight of your project.
  • Use small movements. Moving less can help with cutting down your muscle stress. Because of the smaller arm and hand movements, continental knitting is also prized by people with repetitive stress problems.
  • Keep warm. Being cold makes your muscles tense up much more as you work. Knitting up a pair of wrist warmers is a great solution to this problem, and it can get rid of some of that scrap yarn you have lying around!


I have implemented this advice in my own work, and although I still have some discomfort at times, I am more cautious and conscientious about stretching and taking knitting breaks during my long hours on projects. And although the motions are different, crochet can also cause RSI. These tips can easily applied to crochet related pain.


Please note that we are not doctors here but simple want to pass on what we have learned in our experience.






2 thoughts on “Knitting & Repetitive Stress

    1. Yes, I think anytime you are working with your hands a lot you have a tendency to have this problem. I do some hand sewing for things and I know that if I am working too long on something my hands will definitely tense up.

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