I've written about the issue of craft-related repeated stress injuries before, and as I sit here nursing a bad case of tennis (or stitching) elbow, I am reminded of how careful we really need to be with our bodies.
While it's true that fiber play does have a number of health benefits and can help lubricate your joints and strengthen muscles, repeated stress injuries are possible if we don't take an occasional break or use our muscles in a different way to alleviate strain. If you're in the Sit and Stitch KAL/CAL/Weave/Spin-Along Facebook Group, you've seen several people write about how they are allowing a muscle or tendon heal for a bit before returning to their crafting. Many of us have experienced the muscle soreness and stiffness from sitting in the same posture or doing the same repetitive motion for too long, which is why understanding a bit about ergonomics in crafting is so important.
Yes, there are tools to assist with making crafting a bit more comfortable. Several companies have created ergonomic crochet hooks. Square shaped knitting needles. Seats for better posture to use while spinning or weaving. These things can help alleviate some of the pressure we put on our muscles and joints and gently help us maintain an easier grip or more natural hold on our tools as we work.
If you do happen to injure yourself, though, physicians and physical therapists have some wonderful treatments and ways to help you heal. While it may be frustrating that resting your muscles may take you away from your chosen craft for a little while, think of how much more enjoyable it will be when you can return to it.
But don't fear! There are also ways to help prevent RSI, too, before you'd need to see a physician. Carson Demers, a physical therapist known for his book Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Hand Knitting, has a number of suggestions for how to alleviate unnecessary muscular-skeletal stress. He has been interviewed by Fruity Knitting on several occasions during which he discusses techniques to help us craft more healthfully. You can check out his most recent interview with Andrew and Andrea here.
Also, LoveCrafts worked with Breast Cancer Haven to compile these ten hand stretches to alleviate pain while knitting and crochet, as well.
If you are into yoga, I recommend Yoga With Adriene, who has a number of great videos to assist with posture, shoulders, arms, hands, and wrists. Remember, though, to check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
I, of course, need to remind myself of these tips on a regular basis because it really stinks when your career revolves around stitching but too much stitching can be quite painful. (Also, it isn't all that easy to accomplish while wearing an elbow brace.)
So, as I tell myself and you, just remember that it's okay to take a break every once in awhile to give your body a rest, and while you're resting, you may find even more inspiration for your next project!