What are some good pain relieving tools for knitters?
November 16, 2016 12:29 PM   Subscribe

One of my housemates is an active knitter and sometimes complains of aching hands. She's past retirement age and has a little onset of arthritis. I've found some fingerless lycra support gloves that claim to help with that sort of thing. Do any of our knitters have experience with these things, and if they do help, is there a good brand I should look at?
posted by Karmakaze to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm interested in learning Portuguese knitting, a technique that looks like it would be easier on my hands and wrists.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:39 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Taking breaks and stretching is super important, and generally making sure to keep good posture while knitting. I'm not saying that leaning on my elbow while knitting caused my pinched nerve in that arm, but I've been a lot more vigilant lately and it's getting better...

Also, finger yoga is a thing I have heard people reccomend. I haven't used it (I mostly just try to stretch), but it's definitely worth a try.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:22 PM on November 16, 2016

I've heard switching up the knitting style can help. For example, if she primarily knits English style, she may want to try knitting Continental style after a few rows. This will make changes in motion and may relieve some repetitive stress from one kind of knitting technique.

Of course, this may require her to learn another knitting style (I English knit and I keep meaning to learn Continental but haven't bothered yet though I should for this very and other reasons). But there are Youtube videos galore to help with that.
posted by zizzle at 1:56 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had to stop knitting for a year (and typing for months) because of wrist pain (chronic pain condition, not arthritis). Some thoughts:
- The main reason that I can knit again is that I switched to Portuguese-style (from Continental). Whenever I try switching back for a few stitches I immediately feel the difference.
- Also very important is looking at the ergonomics of the rest of your life--my real issue wasn't the knitting, it was the knitting on top of the mess that was my computer set-up (now much improved).
- Ultimately, I've had to accept that I'm never going to be one of those people who can knit for hours on end day after day. I knit a few hours a week and I take breaks, stretch, and try to space my knitting time out over a longer period.

Regarding products that can help:
- Those lycra gloves do help, but not as much as wrist braces. I have a heavy-duty pair that goes up my forearm that I sleep in, and a couple pairs of these smaller ones that support my wrists when I knit (or type, on bad days) while leaving most of my hands bare.
- Some needles are more comfortable for your hands than others. Just switching from aluminum and bamboo to wood helped a lot, but these days my favorites to knit with are square diameter needles, in either metal (Kollage Square) or wood (Knitter's Pride Cubics). Pony pearls (plastic with a springy metal core) are also really comfortable and a bit cheaper, and I'm waiting for Prym's new ergonomic line to launch to see what the reviews are.
posted by bettafish at 2:19 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I knit and have mild arthritis in my hands and I've been wearing these gloves at night. The gloves have helped with general stiffness but I do not wear them when knitting because the yarn sticks to the gloves.

Some people with arthritis find square knitting needles or casein needles easier to knit with. I know of two brands of square needles - Kollage Square needles and Knitter's Pride Cubics (available in either wood or metal). I have a pair of wooden Cubics and, although I like them, I do not find any benefit. As for casein needles, I inherited some and purchased two pair of Swallow casein double point needles and love knitting with them. But I think they are only available as single or double point needles.

I also learned to knit both English and Continental, and switching between does help, as zizzle recommended. As ottereroticist noted, I've been thinking of learning Portuguese as well, but have not found the time.
posted by bCat at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got some of those lyrca fingerless gloves for knitting, from the drug store. They weren't fancy or special, but they were affordable and did let me knit for longer before cramping up. Downsides include sweaty hands and yarn getting stuck in the Velcro.

Also, seconding square needles. I don't need the gloves for those and can go for ages, even on the smaller projects.
posted by mibo at 3:43 PM on November 16, 2016

Thank you. I am asking with an eye towards Christmas gifting, so the brace and alternate needles suggestions are especially useful.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2016

From my mother, who knits and quilts in her 70s:
I would suggest a couple of things to try right before you sit down to knit. Maybe run your hands under some pretty warm water, rub your fingers, possibly with Aspercreme, or take a couple of Aspirin or Ibuprofen. And then do some simple finger/hand exercises throughout the day to keep your joints limber. And of course, on your next visit, address the issue with your physician. ENJOY your knitting!
posted by WCityMike at 9:29 AM on November 17, 2016

I have problems with tendinitits in my arms and hands, and the thing I find most helpful is strengthening my hands with a thing like this that rock climbers and guitar players use.
posted by exceptinsects at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2016

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