The last day of February is International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day. Whether you knit, crochet, color, sew, cross stitch, embroider, or enjoy other crafty pastimes like diamond painting or LEGO building, you’ve likely done repetitive motions while in pursuit of your hobbies. I reached out to Alyssa Cape from Alyssa Massage for tips, tricks and helpful hints on ways to keep our mobility and flexibility healthy so we can continue to craft for many years to come.
Me: Hi Alyssa! Crafters (like myself) have a tendency to sit for long periods of time. We can be hunched over our desks during activities like coloring, sewing or diamond painting, or spend many hours cross-legged on the couch while knitting, crocheting or doing embroidery. Do you have any posture tips for long crafting sessions?
Alyssa: I’d put a small step stool or shoe box under the feet so the knees are slightly higher than the hips. This helps the small curve in your back from pinching and then your neck automatically goes forward. This way when your feet are slightly elevated, the pelvis is tilted back a bit so you can rest your back on lumbar support or pillow and your muscles relax.
I wouldn’t suggest sitting cross legged, however if you do, switch positions often. Get up to drink some water and to walk around to give your body a break.
There are multiple videos showing how to be comfortable while doing crafts like knitting or crocheting, like this one:
Me: Crafters can be prone to sore wrists, hands and fingers. Sometimes this pain can shoot up into the arm. Should we be doing exercises to keep our hands, wrists or arms in shape?
Alyssa: Here are 2 links, one shows 3 stretches for carpal tunnel and the other is self hand massaging. I do these myself as well! They can also be used for computer/ desk work.
I would recommend not to over-stretch as you can pull on the nerves. Nerves are like dental floss, they pass through the joints. They don’t stretch like muscle, tendons and ligaments. So if you feel tingling or burning in your fingers, stop!
Me: How hard should we be stretching? How often should we do them?
Alyssa: Do the stretches gently so you feel a slight stretch/ resistance and then stop. You’ll see mobility, flexibility and strength will come! Seeing a physiotherapist is also a good idea as they can provide you with multiple exercises and stretches and suggest the frequency of both as it’s different for each person.
Me: What should we do when in pain? Is that the time to stretch?
Alyssa: I don’t recommend when in pain to stretch and self massage. Rest hands as much as possible. There are thumb/ wrist/ arm braces that can be worn while crafting and at night as well to help stabilize the wrist during sleep.
Me: Do you recommend ice or heat?
Alyssa: You can alternate heat and cold compresses 15 minutes each. Heat allows for more blood flow which speeds up healing and cold reduces blood flow for swelling and inflammation.
Me: Any other tips?
Alyssa: A warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts really helps de-stress the muscles and then you can apply cold on the specific location. Drinking lots of water also helps with muscle soreness and tension!
That said- always consult with your doctor before doing any stretches or exercises to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue!!
Alyssa has been a registered & certified Massotherapist for over 12 years. She is professional, dynamic and intuitive in her practices and completely dedicated to your overall wellness. You can enjoy the benefits of preventative and ongoing massage therapy for your health and well-being by visiting her here.
Disclaimer: I reached out to Alyssa on my own and asked for her professional advice to share here today. There was no compensation given on either part in exchange.