Knitting Wellbeing – A Personal Update
Let’s talk about knitting for health, and healthy knitting… this is an update from my personal perspective
Late last year I (Michelle) experienced a health scare (and it was scary) and the impacts of that continue to ripple through my life… which brings me here to this subject with you. Knitting has been both part of the solution and part of the problem, so let’s jump into knitting for health and then explore healthy knitting.
Knitting for health is a thing most of us slow crafters know to be a REAL thing, it’s about slowing down (perhaps like me that is the balance in an otherwise fast paced and adventurous life), being focused and peacefully immersed (aka mindful), being disconnected (digitally) or reconnected (touch and movement)… it’s about starting, creating, completing. It’s about achievement. It’s also about rhythm and soothing patterns, from a wind down at night to the bedside vigil of a loved one. It’s the productive passage of time, active relaxing – or as my Nana always said “busy hands, happy heart”. It’s a reason to sit, a place to express, a safe and comforting practice. So yeah, many things – and for me recently it has become a way to heal my head. Shout out to those out there working through cognitive issues, brain things are gnarly.
Knitting has always been in my life as part of the ‘effort driven reward cycle’ that brings me so much joy – but more critically, it has now become a part of my brain health. It assists my function through pattern repetition, rest from the noise and over stimulation of life, plus it works as a soothing stress management. It’s like gentle exercise for the left and right sides too. If you or someone you know is dealing with a head injury / neurological issues… brain stuff, may I suggest some knitting. I’d say jump in with the ‘simple’ stuff, the knit every stitch type of project – and then build up with focus to add in patterns. Reach out to me, I am happy to help – I am no expert, but I am learning daily.
But let’s now consider healthy knitting – because this is me right now, learning about my beloved craft and past time causing me problems.
Consider dropping the metal needles as there is evidence to support knitting on your classic long metal needles with the onset of joint pain / arthritis. No knitter needs that in their life. Actually may I suggest moving all your knitting to circular needles – even knitting flat – as it can be very positive for your posture and wrists, helping you avoid the dreaded RSI. I’m no expert in these things, but when carpal tunnel robbed me of the dexterity to knit, I was delighted to find circular needles and returned to my beloved knitting.
But here is the BIG one for me right now, looking down. The strain that our necks goes under when we stick our heads out and focus downward is crazy. Actually it’s worse than crazy. Now generally speaking I am not watching my knitting, I am in fact mostly reading while I knit. But I am craning my head out and down – are you? Please please give this some thought, where is your head at?
My posture knitting has given me layers of issues that are affecting me neurologically.
How crazy is that?? So here I am, taking my brain breaks, knitting… and actually making things worse. Far out. Let my lesson be one for you too. When you pick up your sticks, check where your head is at. Sit up (maybe skip the couch, coz that is slouch central), nice gentle arch in your lower back, bring those shoulder blades back and grow taller. Head back and chin in. To help practice this posture, consider knitting at the table – so your arms are up above the table and you are sitting upright. To help ‘undo’ the strain of craning your head forward (aka the texting position) lay flat on the ground, on your back. No pillow. Let your neck rest in it’s natural position. Our heads are heavy as, so asking our neck to hold them in that forward position is extremely damaging. At best you are creating muscle and joint issues, and is my case – you maybe loading up the brain stem, that nerve centre at the bottom of your thinking machine that connects to your spinal cord. It’s a precious piece of our body, so taking sometime to protect it is a VERY good idea.
Take a looky at this simple chin tuck exercise that is now part of my daily routine – i’ve set alarms on my phone 5 times a day – CHIN TUCK
So here’s my thought round up for you and your loved ones, knit. Put the stitches on the needles, and knit (or hook) at what ever pace and skill level you have – but do it. It’s so GOOD for your soul and your brain. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, it doesn’t matter that it takes you a year to finish a project, it doesn’t matter if you can only do simple things – the DOING is important. But please consider how you hold your body, your posture and especially your neck. Think about the lighting too. Invest in good tools and enjoy the process, we want to be makers for life right?
Anyhoo, from my world sometimes cloudy with brain fog – I hope this makes sense hahaha, reach out to me, I’m just here