Crocheting Can Be a Pain in the Neck
I know there’s been an explosion in the numbers of individuals who have taken up arts and crafts in recent years. With the advent of places like Etsy combined with DYI videos on YouTube, people have been putting their creative talents to good use, using crafts to destress or relax, and opening small business and the like. If you are an individual who loves working with your hands, you might also have discovered that you end up with neck pain from spending so much time hunched over.
Our official mascot, Pat the Pelvis, can get carried away, sometimes.
Just before my son was born I had decided to learn how to knit. I always liked making things but sewing and doing things with yarn had always evaded me. I took Industrial Arts in lieu of Home Economics in school, which gave me an edge in making pots, but it was not so helpful when it came to cooking in them. For my loss, I guess. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to be able to make the little one his very own ‘home-made’ booties when he was born, so I watched a couple of “how-to” knitting videos and was on my way. A few years passed and I noticed on Pinterest that there were other things (especially toys) that were just out of my grasp because they were crocheted.
So, when my Mother-in-law was visiting one day, I asked her to teach me how to crochet. In an afternoon, we went over the basics, and within a few weeks, I had most of the techniques down (thanks to blogs and YouTube). I was hooked!
I can’t help it!
Now, I crochet as much as I can, but I’ve come across a problem. With my head slumped forward for extensive periods, I discovered that I was not in a better position than those with ‘text neck’, that is, people who suffer from poor posture from looking down at their phones for long periods of time. I also found that I had tension in my shoulders (especially my right one, as I’m right-handed) and this went straight up my neck (often resulting in a headache) and sometimes down my back.
It’s really easy to get settled down in a position that causes your neck and body to slump forward. Your shoulders can also begin to roll forward. All of this can be bad news for your spine and pelvis.
This has been on my mind more so now than before because I’ve recently been teaching my son how to crochet (at his request). He is well on his way to making his first little coasters, but I have noticed him lifting his head and stretching more often. We’ve been learning some useful techniques to help with text-neck because children (and adults) spend so much of their day looking down. We look down at our desk. When look down to eat. We look down to text, scroll, read and play games on our phone. We look down to read. And for those of us knitters and crocheters we are constantly hunched forward. We are slowly turning into a society of quasi-modos.
My next crochet project.
If you are a crocheter like me and my son (or if you are crafty in any way that requires you to look down for long periods), here are some tips you can use to help prevent headaches and promote better posture.
- Take a break. I know, I know, one more round and you are nearly done that amigurumi bear or that special doily you are making as a gift. Seriously though, it’s important to give your neck and arms a break. The longer you bend forward and extend your arms, the more tension you are putting on your neck, back and shoulders . . . whether it is crochet, knitting, needlework, sewing, crafting, origami, reading, etc.
- Slowly rotate your head in circles (clockwise and then counterclockwise). Turn your head from side to side and up and down. Do this frequently.
- Exercise more. Put everything down and rotate your shoulders. Lift your arms above your head a few times. Also stretch them out and bend them in to get blood flowing and also to avoid your arms cramping up. Extend those finger digits too and rotate your wrists as well.
- Check your posture. I am the worst at this, but it’s important, so let’s work on this together. When you get settled into a project, the first thing that goes is posture. However, every half an hour or so, check your posture and sit up straight. Sit up straight. Shoulders up, back and down again. Don’t get settled in a slouching position for too long. Make sure your shoulders don’t keep rolling forward.
- Get up. Move around to avoid hours in the same slumped over position. Some people will think ‘taking a break’ doesn’t always involve getting up, so this one gets its own category. Getting up will break the sedentary position you are in and get blood flowing.
- Look up. It’s common and natural to hold your work low, but if you can adjust your position and hold your knitting or crochet higher, you won’t have to drop your head down as low. Obviously you don’t want to hold it too high either (eye level will add more tension to your arms and shoulders), so find middle ground. Perhaps put one or two pillows on your lap, so you can rest your work on it. If you are pillow-making crazy like me, you can even make your own pillows to use! Bonus!!
Not recommended for pillow fights.
These short tips are useful for just about any project. Whether you make cross-stitch, cards, ornament making, origami, painting, sewing, woodworking, ironworking and more, keep these tips handy and remember to take care of your back and spine.
If you have further tips that you use to keep your neck, back and shoulders from getting stiff, feel free to add them in the comments below.
And if you are up to it . . . feel free to show-off your crochet or craft work!
The little guy’s first coasters!