Knitting: Posture and Pain

Having had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago was a big relief – major pain gone.  Now, with some time on my hands before the next semester begins, I picked up my knitting needles and long-neglected projects, begun and unbegun.  A couple of days ago I started working on the Trout Season Socks, listening to an audio book, enjoying the peace and quiet.  The next day, my shoulder hurt and ached on the backside, where the clavicle and scapular articulate, just where the surgery was.  Needless to say, I was not happy, and given that, when I returned to physical therapy yesterday, I brought my knitting with me for the therapist and me to discuss.

One look at me when I showed her what I was doing and she said, “Sit up straight, bring your shoulders back, and down.”

I will be the first to admit – I have sloppy posture.  When I buy furniture, I have to be able to sprawl in it, legs over the chair arms, and if the back of a couch touches my knees when I sit in it, it is too shallow for comfort.

Of course, being sloppy is far easier than focusing on changing bad habits.  I looked up shoulder support devices on google – there are a lot out there which will pull your shoulders back for you.  Knitty has an article about posture and knitting, which is quite good.  In a nutshell, keep your arms parallel to you body, shoulder to the elbow, and knit close to your body.  Don’t bend your wrists, as that increases your risk of carpal tunnel problems.  Accidental Yarnover blog has a lot of suggestions, some of which are the classical “keep your feet flat on the floor,” to using shorter knitting needles, and letting the weight of the knitted object rest in your lap.  Rachel Knits blog links to this article, which is quite interesting in and of itself.  Carpal tunnel is also a risk of knitting, and you can read about it on Subversive Knitting.  The New Zealand Railways Magazine in 1931 shows “the correct posture for knitting and darning.”

Obviously. knitting and pain have been around for awhile – and who knows how people who earned their living by knitting fared.

There are a lot of websites which will give hints and ideas about how to improve posture, exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles to help keep them back and down, as well as ergonomic information to prevent carpal tunnel.  I have been given a number of exercises to do, from stretches to isometrics (not up to weights or stretchy bands yet).  If I don’t do them, I can tell.  If I do them, life is far more pleasant. 

Finding the time to do them is imperative, no matter what my schedule.  In other words, they have to be the primary focus of my day, and then the playtime can follow. My biggest resistance to doing them is boredom – and they are Boring with a Capital B! Thank goodness for the iPod and Pandora!

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