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Carpel tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury (RSI/Tenosynovitis), tendonitis, hand fatigue and pain may be the last thing on your mind when crocheting - but you may be damaging your hands without even knowing it. Or you may even be worsening a current condition like arthritis by sacrificially following your crochet passion.
Even if you're not feeling any pain now, it's sure to follow if you're not careful.
In this article, I'll go over few things you can try in order to prevent these very serious conditions. And, if you're already suffering from these conditions, hopefully a tip or two here can help you dust off that project in the corner. You had to put it away because the pain was just too intense. I'm crossing my fingers this article can help you restart your passion, and allow you to crochet once again!
Here are the 5 things you may doing right now that can be hurting your hands while you crochet:
- Working non-stop on a crochet pattern for too long without breaks
- Keeping your fingers, wrist and arm in a non-natural position while crocheting
- Using non-ergonomic devices in your everyday life
- Holding your crochet hooks too tightly
- Using thin crochet hooks that require 'pinching' your fingers onto the crochet hook
Let's go over these in a little more detail…
1 - Working non-stop on a crochet pattern for too long without breaks
Whether you're working on a time sensitive project or you're simply enjoying working on your crochet pattern – you may lose track of time. Even if working 100% ergonomically, it's still not a good thing to work non-stop for too long.
Think of it this way…
Lifting your arms may not be difficult at all. However, if you hold your arms up for 10 minutes or more, your arms start to feel really heavy. It becomes increasingly difficult to hold your arms up – regardless of how strong you may be.
So no matter how easy you believe your current crochet pattern is, make sure to take (at least) a 5-10 minute break every 30 minutes or so. Please give your muscles and tendons get a chance to rest.
2 - Keeping your fingers, wrist and arm in a non-natural position while crocheting
It's never a great idea to work against your body's natural movements.
It's like holding a string tightly, and sliding it up and down along a table corner. Eventually, that string will break. You want your muscles and tendons moving freely the way they are meant to.
Sitting incorrectly, positioning your wrist and fingers in a weird angle can really lead to damage over time.
Since everybody's body is different, you must find what's comfortable for you. If you feel any pain or discomfort at all, listen to your body and reposition in a way to avoid damage.
3 - Using non-ergonomic devices in your everyday life
Some folks blame crochet for all their hand/wrist pain and issues. However, this may not be the full reason.
Not only is using ergonomic crochet hooks a necessity (more on that in a minute), but all your tools and devices should be ergonomic as well.
For example, if using a regular keyboard and mouse while on your computer, you may already be damaging your hands and developing serious issues. This is only made worse by the rest of the no-no's found in this article.
Even using proper cooking utensils can help prevent issues.
The last thing you want to do is compound issues. Just make sure to take care of your hands even when not crocheting. If you've spent 3 hours on the computer, cooking and writing some notes with a pen, then your hands, wrists and arms may already be tired before you even pick up your crochet hooks and yarn!
Just keep a wider view of awareness when your hands and wrists are involved. This will go a long way.
4 – Holding your crochet hooks too tightly
This may sound strange, but the tighter you hold your hooks, for an extended time period, the more damage you do to your hands.
Every second of only 3 ounces of grip pressure (when clicking a mouse button, for example) translates into 10 ounces of pressure on your thumb joint. So, if every second within a 3 hour time period, you apply 3 ounces of pressure, it's equal to 6,700 pounds of grip or 3.38 tons of pressure per day! (OUCH!)
Check out this chart:
The magnitude is how tightly you hold your hook. As you can see, the more often you let go and re-grip tightly over time, your physical stress is significantly increased.
Consider this during your next project. You may have to relearn certain techniques, but gripping lightly may not only save your hands, but may even let you crochet faster!
Which brings me to our final point…
5 - Using crochet hooks that require 'pinching' your fingers onto the crochet hook
Do you see the recurring theme?
If you fight your body's natural movements – it's simply not a good thing.
Thin hooks require your fingers to grip more tightly, or pinch more, in order to maintain control. And if they're completely metal, they may have a little weight to them – requiring you to grip even tighter so the crochet hook doesn't fall out of your hand.
Of course, if the crochet hooks are too 'fat', your fingers will need to open in order to grip this type of crochet hook. This also creates a very unnatural grip. Some new fat "ergonomic crochet hooks" claim to help your hands. This could definitely be true, but only if you have bigger hands and your fingers can naturally grip the hook.
So then, what ergonomic crochet hook is a good choice?
A good ergonomic crochet hook should be lightweight and cushioned in order to loosen and soften your grip. Make sure the ergonomic crochet hook you chose isn't too thin or too fat. Your fingers should lay on a cushioned grip comfortably and naturally. The cushioned crochet hook grip should be softer than metal, but not too 'squishy' either. Since no two people are created equal (except for twins), the crochet hook your friend may be using may not work for you – and vice-versa. The only way to be 100% sure is to try different hooks and see if they work for you personally.
A great choice – Ergo Hooks
I've given you lots of good tips in finding an ergonomic crochet hook that will not only save your hands, but may also let you crochet faster.
Obviously, other factors need to be included in a crochet hook to not only make it ergonomic, but an actual great crochet hook!
For example, you want to make sure the aluminum is smooth enough so that your yarn doesn't get caught. This slows your project, and is just plain annoying.
We've developed Ergo Hooks with one thing in mind – saving hands while optimizing the crochet experience. Basically, you shouldn't have to think about your hook while working on your beautiful project. We've done our best to help you forget you have a hook in your hand, and simply concentrate on your pattern. This allows you to comfortably, and quickly finish your project.
We've had so many customers nearly in tears (and some in tears) give us heartfelt thanks for the opportunity our hooks have given them! After reluctantly having to stop their passion for crochet, due to RSI (and even arthritis), they're able to crochet again using our hooks (see some of our Ergo Hooks Reviews). We're overwhelmed by these responses. It has made all our efforts worthwhile when hearing stories like these.
There are many choices for crochet hooks, but don't sacrifice health for price. Some thin, completely metal hooks may be inexpensive in the short term. However, they may cost you much more in medical expenses later!
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Hopefully, this helped, and here's some more info…
I hope this article helps you avoid any future issues with your hands. Or, maybe it's even offered you tips to fix/avoid your current hand issues. There are also excellent hand exercises all over the internet which may help with certain conditions. Be careful, of course. Make sure to run it by your doctor and ensure it's safe for your particular condition.
If you'd like to continue reading more geek stuff about how your hands are being affected, here's a great PDF:
Or if you prefer, just read it online here: