Crocheting is a relaxing and therapeutic pastime both mentally and physically, but making sure you get to enjoy crocheting for years to come requires keeping your hands and body in good working order. Experiencing pain while you crochet is never a good sign. Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to tense neck and back muscles. Repetitive motions often cause strain in hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, as well as causing muscle cramps. If you deal with pain from arthritis, carpal tunnel, or a past injury it is especially important to take steps to avoid further damage.
Part of the way you can do this is by performing these 8 simple stretches before you pick up your hook. It might seem like an inconvenience in the moment, but your hands will be much happier in the long run!
Speaking of hooks, this one from Furls was specially designed for people who experience hand pain while crocheting. <—Click this link to get one of your own!
The most important thing with these stretches is to remember to be gentle when you do them—don’t overstretch! Overstretching if you have tendon or joint damage can injure those spots further. If you experience more pain while doing these stretching exercises, stop.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. While these hand stretches work great for me, the following instructions should not be taken as medical advice. If you have sustained an injury in the past, or have a medical condition that prevents you from doing certain stretches, please use common sense and avoid them. Always consult a medical professional before starting any new exercise program.
Back and Shoulder Stretches – Hold each stretch 5-10 seconds:
It may seem unusual to start with the back and shoulders, but stretching the big muscles first can help the stretches for your smaller muscles to be more effective, thereby reducing pain while crocheting.
1. Stand up, and reach high into the air, then bend down toward the floor a couple of times. Take it slow transitioning from high to low, and back up again. You should feel the stretch in your shoulders, back, and possibly even your legs.
2. Interlock your fingers and reach out in front stretching them away from you. Then clasp your hands behind your back and reach up as far as you can. This will give your shoulders a good stretch.
Hand and wrist stretches – Hold each stretch 5-10 seconds:
After stretching your back and shoulders, move on to your wrists, hands, and fingers. These stretches especially should be done any time you plan to crochet.
3. Gently flex your hand forward and backward a couple of times at the wrist. Do not try to bend them further than they will comfortably go. When you bend them forward you may feel a stretch in muscles at the top of your arm below your elbow joint.
When you bend your hands back you may feel a stretch in the muscles on the bottom of your arm below your elbow joint. These muscles get tense with repetitive use and can lead to pain in your hands, wrists and fingers. This was/is my biggest problem area, and it is essential for me to do these hand stretches if I want a pain-free crochet experience.
4. Next, take each finger, and gently bend it backward, and forward one at a time.
5. Bend your thumb “out and back”, and “in” again toward your palm. When you bend “out and back” you will feel the stretch in your palm below your thumb if you’re doing it properly. Don’t go too far though!
6. Spread your fingers out,
and then curl them up into loose fists (don’t clench!) several times.
With your hands in loose fists, slowly make circles—both clockwise, and counter clockwise.
Once I’m done with this section I will sometimes massage the muscles in my upper forearms to see if they will relax further. You may find your dominant side carries more tension than your non-dominant side. Excess muscle tension pulls on your joints disrupting the fine balance of movement and is frequently the cause of pain.
Neck Stretches – Hold each stretch 5-10 seconds:
Holding your head in one position while crocheting puts a lot of strain on your neck muscles, which can lead to headaches and even jaw problems.
7. Tip your head side to side, then front and back. Relax, and use your hand to gently stretch your neck as you do this.
8. Slowly rotate your neck in circles a few times.
Hips and Butt – Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds:
Most people don’t realize that their hips are the foundation of the body. Tight muscles in this area can lead to back pain, especially when sitting for long periods of time. Since the muscles in this part of your body are much larger try to hold these positions for 20-30 seconds if you can.
9. This “Knee to chest” stretch will help your glutes, and don’t worry–it’s totally ok if you can’t draw your knee all the way up to your chest:
Sit in a kitchen chair where you are well supported, clasp your hands around your right knee and pull up toward your chest. Repeat for the left knee.
10. If you are comfortable getting down on the floor there is one more stretch that I highly recommend. It’s a “Piriformis” stretch (named after the muscle you should be feeling the stretch in):
Sit on the floor, cross your right leg over your left with your right foot flat on the floor and your knee bent. Gently pull your right knee toward your left side. Now repeat these instructions for your left leg.
And finally, a reminder about posture, which is very important for maintaining a pain-free body while you crochet: Straighten your upper back, drop your shoulders from your ears, and unclench your jaw. Make sure your low back is straight and not “hollowed” or “hunched”. Sit in a chair that supports you well, using a pillow or two for added support if needed. Take regular breaks every hour to do the stretches above, and get a drink of water (did you know that water helps to relax tight muscles?).
If you regularly suffer from pain while crocheting even after stretching, using an ergonomic hook like this one from Furls may help.
Is there a stretch I didn’t cover that helps you stop crochet-related wrist pain? Let me know in the comments!
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