A knitter's guide to pain management

A bit of background first...


Hey y'all! If you're anything like me, you probably knit A LOT. I spend anywhere from two to six hours a day knitting. I try to take breaks, do a couple of sun salutations during them, and push forward to finish my projects as quickly as I can! 

I've been dealing with back pain my whole life. I've gone to PT since I was a teenager, but since taking up knitting professionally two years ago, I have used massage therapy as my primary form of treatment for pain. In the last few months, I've been feeling this popping sensation in my collar bone. I feel MAJORLY off kilter (more so than usual considering I have scoliosis and a form of Spina Bifida), so I decided to take further action.

Three weeks ago I began visiting an acupuncturist/chiropractor twice a week on top of getting deep tissue massages biweekly. Luckily for me, acupuncture is covered by health insurance---but I know acupuncture, chiropractor visits and massages can get really expensive and are not for everyone's lifestyle. Because of this, I wanted to start doing weekly posts offering free advice about different exercises/stretches you can do for your pain! Obviously I am not a doctor, just a knitter like you! So if you are injured and experiencing severe pain, please visit your doctor and ask about these techniques before trying them yourself. 

Each week I will cover a different area of the body! This week's topic is the neck. 

Neck stretches for the knitter/crocheter

These stretches are super simple, but really do the trick! If your neck is feeling strained, this could be an easy thing to try on your knitting breaks that also incorporates the shoulders and can help with tension all throughout the neck to the shoulder blades!

While you're doing your stretches, remember to take DEEP breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth! Check out the video at the bottom for how to do all these stretches back to back for your breaks!



Side to side

Sit in a straight back chair with your feet on the ground, shoulder width apart. Feel free to place a pillow behind your lower back if you wish. Very gently, release your neck and slowly stretch it down to your right side, as if you're trying to touch your ear to the top of your right shoulder. Be careful not to raise your shoulder up as you stretch. It's okay if you don't stretch that far! Take a deep breath in through the nose, as you release let gravity do it's magic and give way to your head moving closer to the shoulder. You should feel a nice stretch on the left side of your neck. Repeat this three times and then switch to the left side!

Correct that over-extension

You may have never noticed this, but it's common for people who are creating things with their hands to subconsciously try to get closer and closer to their work. Maybe you lean over your work, maybe you start off with your knitting resting in your lap and half an hour realize that it's five inches from your face! This exercise is all about correcting that over extension! Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring two fingers to your neck and gently push your chin towards your body, giving yourself that nice double chin look we all strive for! This may not feel like it's doing much but it's helping to ease that muscle in the back of your neck that's working hard to get your eyeballs closer to your knitting!! Bring your hands down and take a slow, deep breath. Repeat three times.

Arms up, over the head

This stretch will help ease the muscle pain in your neck and shoulders! Stand up, feet shoulder width apart. Bring your arms above your head and clasp your hands together with your forefinger and thumb out in the shape of a revolver (Charlie's Angel style). Stretch your hands up towards the sky while keeping your head center and staring straight ahead, tummy tucked in and feet flat on the ground. Utilize the core to really stretch your neck and shoulders out. Imagine you are trying to hold a pencil between your shoulder blades as you take a deep breath in. Release your breath and let your arms fall. Repeat three times.


Bring the shoulder blades together

Standing up with your feet shoulder width apart, bring your arms above your head. Take a breath in and stretch them towards the sky, release them and bring your arms behind your chest, folded like you're about to give someone two VERY intense high fives. Your chest shouldn't be sticking out, try to keep it relaxed while tucking your tummy in and keeping your butt aligned with the top of your head. Breath in and out while keep this pose, squeezing those shouler blades closer and closer together, like you're trying to hold a pillow between the tips of your elbows. Rest there a beat and drop your arms. Repeat three times.



Rachel Barish