I talk often about the health benefits of crochet. What I haven’t talked a lot about is the fact that sometimes the repetitive motion of crochet can cause or exacerbate hand pain for certain individuals. In most cases, this doesn’t mean that the person has to stop crocheting; it just means that adaptations may need to be made for reducing the pain of repetitive stress. Today let’s look at five of the tools available for alleviating crochet-related hand pain. But before we do that, let me tell you about a unique opportunity you have to participate in a focus group on this topic right now if you’re someone who has crochet-related hand pain …
Crocheters’ Hand Pain Focus Group
Linda Skuja, of the beautiful brand Eleven Handmade, is seeking a few motivated people to help her out with a focus group designed to research and solve the “hurting hand” problem that some people experience when crocheting. She is studying Design at the University of Pennsylvania and has an assignment to make a design that solves a problem; crochet-related hand pain is the unique problem she has chosen.
Participants may qualify if:
- You have pain in your left hand/fingers (that’s for right-handed crocheters; vice versa for lefties) when crocheting too long.
- You are willing to test some devices and see if they are working. The participation is online only so the focus group members will need to be willing and able to make simple tools to try out, using sketches provided by Linda. The cost should be minimal and may even be nothing as you may have the craft supplies at home already.
- You are free to participate in this online focus group starting next week and continuing through mid-December.
Participants may really help in pioneering the next stage of treatment devices for people with this unique crochet problem so although there’s no compensation for involvement it provides a great chance to be a part of something in our crochet community. If you are interested, contact Linda at linda.skuja (at) gmail (dot) com.
Okay, now those tools we were talking about at the start of this post …
1. Ergonomic Crochet Hooks
One of the most common ways to deal with crochet-related hand pain is to make adaptations to the hooks that are used. Small, hard-to-grip hooks are usually toughest on the hands so simply choosing projects that use larger hooks can help. Other options are:
- Ergonomic crochet hooks specifically sold for the purpose of reducing crochet-related hand pain. There are many different brands and styles so you’ll have to read some reviews and try some for yourself to see if this option works for you.
- Adding polymer clay handles to your hooks. This makes the hook fatter and easier to grip. Hooks and Yarns has some instructions for making these.
- Pencil grips on crochet hooks. Just adding a pencil grip to your hooks can help make it easier to hold them and put less stress on your hands. In addition to the DIY option, you could look into purchasing specific proudcts like the new Easy Hands Crochet Grips being created by Jeanie A. of San Tan Valley, AZ.
2. The Right Yarn
If you frequently experience pain when you are crocheting then you might find it worth your effort to play around with different types and weights of yarn. Some people find that bulkier, smoother yarn will be easier to work with, requiring less effort from the arms and hands and therefore less likely to cause or exacerbate pain.
3. A Pillow
Many people have told me that it helps to rest their hands on a pillow or a rolled up towel or blanket as they crochet. This helps change where the pressure is placed and relaxes the hands so that they don’t have tension that causes pain. Idea: crochet yourself a pillow that you can use to place your hands on when you crochet future projects!
4. Rest, Stretch, Exercise
Let me digress for a minute here … I suffer from frequent neck, back and shoulder pain. It has been so bad over time that I have seen multiple chiropractors and regularly gone to massage therapists. I have spent a fortune trying to reduce the pain in my body. I know what the problem is. The problem is that as a writer I frequently spend 8 or more hours per day in front of my computer, typing away on my keyboard. My shoulders climb into my ears, my shoulder blades pull together and I’m often in pain as a result.
In addition to the chiropractors and massage therapists, I’ve looked at a variety of products designed to help me with the problem – things like ergonomic chairs and keyboards. I’m not saying that there’s no value to these things but I will say that what I’ve learned over time is that proper self-care is way more useful than anything else I’ve ever tried. When I’m being smart and self-loving, I take ten minute breaks away from the computer each hour to rest, stretch, soothe my body and give it a break. If I don’t do this, the end of the day means pain; when I do it, usually there’s less pain.
I think it’s the same way with crochet. If your hands hurt when you work, work in shorter bursts of time. Take time away to set down your hook and just admire your project while you perform small stretches for your hands. Accept that it may take a little bit longer than before to get projects done but that you’ll get them done without pain.
5. Your Preferred Painkiller
I think it’s important to take all of the actions that you can to prevent and repair the problem that you’re having with pain rather than masking it. That said, some people do find that chronic pain requires them to take a painkiller, such as aspirin, in addition to the other actions they are taking.
Do your hands, wrists or arms ever hurt from crocheting? What do you do to reduce the pain?