My second instalment of self-care while crafting blogs is about hand, wrist, and arm exercises.
I spoke about good tools to make our crafting easier on our hands, read the blog here
Now let’s talk about keeping our hands in good working order by regular and gentle muscle exercises that anyone can do.
Firstly, discipline is a vital part of preventing our hands from hurting. If you craft daily, then you must commit to stretching and exercising your hands on regular basis through however many hours you craft. Trust me it will really help in a long term.
I have seen few crafters adapting the Pomodoro Time Management Technique, you can read more about it here
I really do not remember who I saw using this technique first, but I decided to give it a go. I’m also a terrible procrastinator and will find hundred other things that need my attention than the fifty squares that need crocheting. This technique really helped me to stay focused and I realised that I was so much more productive and in return felt better about my self as the guilt of wasting time was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I am not that disciplined! I still want to start seventy new projects after finishing just one WIP from a pile of eighty.
In the Pomodoro Technique you alternate focused work sessions with frequent short breaks. You set your timer for 25 minutes and in this time you work only on the task you have set yourself, after this time you have a few minutes break, then get back to another 25 minutes of focused work session. After 4 of those sessions, you take one longer break. You can adapt this technique to any tasks that requires you focus.
I have found that it works incredibly well when crocheting and knitting, because the time alerted me to stop, drink water, stretch and do hand and wrist exercises, which resulted with no aches in a long term.
You can adapt it to what suits you best, I usually set the alarm for 30 min, then sent the alarm for another 5 min which is my break. When I was working on the Folk Tales blanket, it took me 45 minutes to crochet 1 square, after it was completed, I had a break, drank some water, exercised, went back, crocheted another square and I did not stop until the square was completed.
Why do we need regular breaks when crocheting and knitting? if you are like me, then you probably craft while sitting in your favourite armchair or spot on the sofa. After a while you realise you have been sitting in the same position for ages most often because you are engrossed in a good program or an audiobook or just trying to follow a difficult pattern, when you get up everything is stiff, and you need a good stretch. Also, your elbows are constantly bent, shoulders slouched, your hands and writs repeat the same action over and over, perfect recipe for repetitive strain injury. Therefore, regular stretches and exercises are vital, and this is why I find the Pomodoro Technique so useful.
You can do these while sitting down or standing up. Keep your arms straight, hold hands in front of you, place your right hand on the back of the fingers of left hand and gently push fingers towards you, repeat the same on the other hand. Then place right hand on the front of the fingers of left hand and push gently towards the floor, repeat on the other hand.
Roll your fingers into a fist and make full circles with your wrists, few times to the left then right.
Place the palms of your hands together, all your fingers in line together, then push the palms away so that only the tips of fingers are touching each other, stretch those fingers far apart and repeat few times.
Intertwine the fingers of both hands so they form a large fist and swing them in half circle movement.
Then shake your hands to loosen up and rest.
With your arms outstretched, wrists facing up, make fists and gently push them towards the floor, this gives you a nice stretch on your arms and elbow.
Below is also short video to show you these and few more exercises. They only take a minute or two, but are very beneficial, well they are for me any way, hope you also find them useful.
Every few hours of crafting I include also a good stretch: Stand up, put your arms up and stretch high like you want to touch Michelangelo’s celling masterpiece in Sistine Chapel, put arms down and roll your shoulders back few times then forward loosing up all this tension, then make nice big circles with your hips few times clockwise then anticlockwise. Finish off with stretching your back by bending forward and outstretching to touch your toes.
I also found very beneficial the muscle fascia stretches on knitfreedom.com blog, find it here
I do them once a day, they are quick, but were amazing for my recovery whenever I overdid it.
Hope you find my tips useful. They work for me, but everyone is different, and you might find better ways to keep your hands, wrists and arms pain free.
On Sunday I’ll talk about strengthening hand and arm muscles with inexpensive resistance aids.
However, tomorrow will be all about entertaining our ears when crafting and I also have a lovely discount offer on some earpods.