How to Cure Knitting Hand Pain
Stretch Your Forearms and Fix Your Tension for Instant Relief
How to Get Relief From Knitting Hand Pain
You want relief from knitting hand pain. Knitting too much has made your hands sore and swollen.
The doctors tell you to rest and wear a brace but you can’t wait to start knitting again. You shouldn’t have to live with knitting hand pain!
I know what it’s like to knit for hours and wake up with hands so sore you can barely move them.
These exercises, taught to me by certified massage therapist and myofascial release specialist Kate Howe, have already helped hundreds of knitters feel instant relief (just check out the comments!).
Learn the Myofascial Forearm Stretch
Tips for Success - Myofascial Stretches
Grasp, “Lock,” and Push To Stretch Muscle Fascia Correctly
- Make sure you don’t have on any hand lotion that might make your arm slippery.
- Unlike most massage techniques, you want the skin to “grab,” not slide.
Grasp your left forearm with your right hand. Squeeze just tight enough to prevent your skin from slipping, and push down towards your wrist.
Note: If your right hand is too sore or weak to get a good grip, you can stabilize your left forearm between your legs (still hold onto the fascia with your right hand) and pull your left arm towards you.
Maintaining your hand grip, now push your hand towards your elbow. Your skin (and fascia) will move, about an inch. That’s how much room your fascia have.
That’s what we want to expand.
Perform These 5 Fascia Stretches to Relieve Knitting Pain
1) Forearm Stretch. Work down your forearm (just a few places will do), holding each stretch for 90 seconds. I like to do this while standing in front of the microwave, waiting for my tea to heat up.
2) Wrist Stretch. Make sure to keep your elbow straight (this is like keeping your knees straight for a hamstring stretch).
3) Milk the Fingers. Grasp, lock, and push down each finger, stretching the fasciae.
4) Stretch the Thumb and Hand. This one feels sooo good.
5) Stretch Your Pinky.
You can do one whole arm then repeat, or alternate each step.
Either way, your hands are going to instantly feel better.
To Save Time Just Do Stretch #1
- If you don’t have much time, just do the myofascial stretches on your forearms from step 1. These alone will provide very fast relief.
- Do these stretches in the bathroom, in front of the microwave, or waiting in line at the grocery store.
I’ve been using these stretches all week, and I love them! Leave a note in the comments if you find anything that has worked for you.
Photographs were taken with the assistance and direction of Kate Howe. Kate is a certified massage therapist based in Aspen, CO. Find her at katehowe.com.
If you liked this tutorial on how to get relief for sore hands, post in the comments!
How Tight Muscle Fasciae Prevent Joints From Healing
Kate explained to me that muscle fascia is the “bag” of dense connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and joints, kind of like plastic wrap.
Fasciae are made of collagen and are connective in nature, like tendons and ligaments, except that fasciae connect muscles to other muscles.
If the fasciae are tight around your muscles, all the stretching or massage in the world can only provide limited relief, because the muscles don’t have room to move.
The good thing is there is an easy way to fix this, and it works, feels good (after you’re done), you can do it by yourself, and it doesn’t take very long.
Just do a series of fascia stretches on yourself. This is called myofascial release, and it’s a form of massage therapy developed in the 1920’s.
After you stretch your forearm fasciae, you can stretch the muscles of the wrist, hands, and fingers and experience a lot of relief from knitting pain next time you go to knit.
Fix the Problems That Cause Hand Pain
If you want to achieve
- Relief from hand pain
- Be able to knit for hours without pain
- Cure for carpal tunnel and RSI
- Enjoying knitting again
And ultimately avoid
- Sore hands, wrists, and fingers
- Frustration at not being able to knit
- Wishing there was something you could do
- Having to take time off knitting to cure hand problems
…You need to fix bad tension habits that are causing you to tense up, work too hard, and knit too tight.
To go from sore and in pain to feeling instant relief, here’s the plan:
- Watch our tension tips for hand pain video
- Apply our fixes to correct bad tension in your knitting
- Knit for hours without pain
Doctors tell you to rest and wear a brace, but that won’t fix the root cause of your knitting difficulties. Fix your knitting tension with the video below to stop the cause of knitting hand pain in its tracks.
Video: How to Fix Your Knitting Tension and Prevent Hand Pain
5 Easy Ways to Knit With Less Effort & Pain
Here are some ways to be less tense when you knit:
- Make sure that you are tensioning the yarn in your fingers (instead of just pinching it and letting it drop and picking it back up)
- Don’t think about trying to knit fast. Enjoy your stitches.
- Don’t think about how far you’ve gotten on your sweater. You’ll make the most progress when you forget that there’s progress to be made.
- Make sure you push each newly created stitch all the way down onto the barrel of the right-hand needle. Don’t leave it on the tapered part. This will ensure that the stitch is the right size, not too tight, and you won’t have to work hard to knit into it on the next row.
- Use the highest-quality needles that are within your budget. Lantern Moons are wonderful wooden needles and Signature Needle Arts needles are my favorite metal needles. Addi Turbos are my favorite circular needles. Any high-quality needle will let your stitches slide better and you won’t have to work hard to move them and knit into them.
Learn To Knit With Perfect Tension at Knitting Superstar University
Trying to learn and master knitting on your own can be frustrating. Even after watching many YouTube videos, your stitches seem uneven and you can’t figure out why. At Knitting Superstar University, we teach you to knit with perfect tension whether you prefer American or Continental style knitting so that you can feel proud of each stitch. Get instant access today.
Frequent Questions - Knitting Hand Pain
1. Why do my hands hurt when I knit?
Knitting pain can occur when you knit for longer than you are used to, even if your technique is error-free. If you knit for hours straight without taking a break, your muscles will get tired and sore. This is normal and the stretches above will help a lot. You can take a five-minute break every 40 minutes to stretch your hands, stretch your legs, and make a cup of tea.
Sore hands can also happen if your knitting technique is not correct. If you grip the needles and yarn too tight, your muscles will get tired faster. Gripping the yarn too tight leads to tight stitches, which are hard to knit into and cause you to hold everything even tighter to try to knit into the tight stitches. The solution is to find a way of tensioning the yarn that feels comfortable to you where you feel that you are in control of the flow of the yarn. It should be easy for you to stop and start the flow of yarn through your fingers. The tension tips video above will help you do this.
2. Why do my fingers hurt when I knit?
If you are using sharp needles like Knit Picks Harmony needles or Addi Lace needles and you use your fingertip to push the end of the needle as you advance your stitches, you can become sensitive on the tip of your finger. Loosening the tension of your stitches can help with this. Let the yarn flow through your fingers at every stage of the stitch-creation. Those stitches need yarn in order to form. Push each completed stitch all the way to the body of the right-hand needle, and make sure it can slide on the needle.
Sometimes we are trying to achieve a gauge that is tighter than what we can easily get because we don’t have small enough needles at hand, and we think that if we knit tighter than normal, we can get gauge. This is an error because as soon as you start to relax (which is kind of the whole point of knitting), your gauge starts to relax too and your project gauge will change. And even if you do manage to knit tight on purpose, this causes added stress to your hands and fingers. So get the right size needles and spare your fingertips.
If you are holding the working yarn in a way that feels awkward, your finger muscles will definitely get tired. You can try many adjustments to your grip to find one that is more comfortable. Some knitters have noted that if you rotate your hands away from you it is more comfortable than when you hold your knitting vertically and are looking straight down at the needles.
3. Can knitting cause carpal tunnel?
Sadly, yes. Knitting with a grip or position that irritates the nerves in your wrists can cause or aggravate carpal tunnel. Switching to Continental or Portuguese knitting can possibly relieve the irritation.
4. Can knitting cause RSI (repetitive stress injury)?
Yes, repeating movements many thousands of times can definitely cause a repetitive stress injury. This is compounded if you do not take breaks every 40 minutes or do any hand stretches. If you feel effort or pain while knitting, it is time to reassess your hand positioning, yarn tension, and stitch technique BEFORE the pain turns into a repetitive stress injury. Review the tension tips video above and make sure to evaluate whether you are committing any of the common tension mistakes demonstrated.
5. Can I knit even though I have arthritis?
If you have arthritis in your knuckles, you may have to get creative with how you tension your yarn. If you cannot knit with the yarn woven under-over-under-over your fingers, you can wrap the yarn twice around your pinky finger or your whole palm. Many knitters report that Portuguese knitting eliminates their tension difficulties and enables them to knit pain-free, even with arthritis. The myofascial forearm stretch video above will help relieve pain, even if you are not a knitter.
6. Are the benefits of knitting worth the risk of hurting my hands?
Trick question. While knitting confers innumerable mental health benefits, nothing is worth risking the health of your body and causing injuries that may become chronic and take away your enjoyment of life. The good news is if you learn to knit with correct tension, you will not risk your physical health. Knitting doesn’t have to be a trade-off and it doesn’t have to hurt. So many knitters commit the common tension errors I show in my tension tips video that it’s worth your time to watch the video and make sure you aren’t accidentally committing one or more of these incredibly-common mistakes.
You deserve to knit without pain and you can do it if you pay attention to what’s difficult, awkward, or uncomfortable and get creative in finding ways to change how you knit. Just don’t ignore the pain and power through, hoping it will go away by itself!