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Don't injure yourself when knitting

(NC) If you enjoy the cozy feeling of knitting during winter, be aware that this hobby requires repetitive motion – and much like typing, sewing, or any other repetitive task, a long season of knitting can lead to a variety of injuries.

Due to the extended length of time in a sitting position and looking down at the work, for example, knitting can cause strain not only on the hands and wrists, but also on the neck and upper back. In serious cases, knitting can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome from improper wrist positioning and grip technique.

The Ontario Chiropractic Association has compiled a few tips and techniques to help knitters enjoy their hobby free of pain and discomfort. First and foremost they say, the single most important thing a knitter can do to prevent injury is take frequent, regular breaks, plus the following:

• Change the position of your body and look up from your work (and into the distance) often.

• Sit with your feet on the floor, in a chair, and try not to hunch. When adjusting your posture, try to engage your abdomen.

• Stretch your fingers by clenching your hands and then spreading your fingers as far as you can. Stretch and strengthen your wrists with simple curls. Lay your forearm on a flat surface with your wrist at the edge. Holding a small hand weight let your wrist fall over the edge and then lift the weight up towards you only bending your wrist. The rest of your arm should remain laying flat on the table

• Sit in a comfortable but supportive chair and consider placing a small cushion, rolled up towel or sweater between your chair and the curve in the small of your low back

• The tools you use matter – consider smooth, lightweight needles. Circular needles are best for large projects.

• Make small, efficient movements. Practice how small you can make your movements. Keep the working yarn close to the tip of the needles.

• Plan your knitting projects in advance and try to space them out over time.

Any pain or stiffness resulting from knitting should not be ignored. Knitting should be a fun, relaxing hobby, so make sure it contributes to your well-being and health, not to injuries. More information on back health, including how to protect it during snow shoveling, can be found online at

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Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

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