Knitting Comfortably

We all get knitting pain sometimes, and it’s mostly down to the position we sit in, whether we warm up (knitting is exercise, didn’t you know) and what technique we use to knit. I’ll be discussing the usual, and not so usual, culprits and what you can do to fix it. Please note tho, I am not a doctor and I would advise you to check with your healthcare professional first!

A peasant girl knitting, painting by Jules Breton (1887)

Let’s talk about sitting

If you have back pain, shoulder pain, a stiff neck or burning forearms (not relating to a previous or current injury), chances are you’re sitting wrong. So what’s the right way to sit?


According to Jo Jackson, pilates instructor at Evolved, we need to be mindful of the following:

1.)  Think about the surface you sit on.

A firm surface that angles your hips slightly above your knees will enable you to correctly align your pelvis and lower back and allow optimal posture and spinal positioning to follow.

2.)  Plant both feet firmly onto the floor for an instant posture fix.

Try to avoid crossing your legs or tucking your knees up underneath you. Good spinal positioning is near to impossible to sustain in these positions. Also be mindful of the positioning of your pelvis. Aim to sit up on top of your sit bones, rather than rock back over them into a slump. The hip bones should be level to allow the spine the ‘grow’ up out of the bowl of the pelvis and give improved spinal alignment and posture.

3.)  Align not only the vertebrae in your spine but also your head.

You will no doubt become more and more engrossed in what you are doing, and find your nose 10cm away from what you are creating.  Could this be the cause of the ache in your neck and the top of your shoulders? Any point toppling off the axis of the spine and deviation from good posture will require far more muscular effort to support and sustain.

4.)  Be mindful of your shoulder positioning. It’s integral to good spinal positioning and posture whilst sitting

As you sustain a position with your arms out in front of you, it is extremely likely that your shoulders will soon follow suit and roll forwards.  Think about the balancing and suspension of the shoulder girdle as a shared effort between the muscles in the front and back of the chest. Our bodies require symmetrical strength and muscular balance on both the left and right sides, and the front and the back of the body to achieve ideal posture and alignment.

5.)  Take frequent breaks.

This will allow you to come back to your project and ‘reset’ your ideal posture and spinal posture. Postural fatigue happens quickly, particularly as you become absorbed in your project.

The Knitting Chair by Ib Kofod-Larsen, first launched as a limited edition in 1951

Need a reason to buy something knitting related just for you (like yarn isn’t enough)? Have a look at the Menu Knitting Chair. Be warned tho, it comes with a hefty designer price tag.

Keeping your arms knitting fit

Sitting in one position and concentrating on your knitting for long (or even short) periods of time can make your shoulders and neck stiff. Not to mention that holding needles and making small movements with your hands can cramp your fingers and wrists. Do the exercises in this handy video before you start knitting.

Interested in knitting ergonomics? There’s an amazing book by Carson Demers with 250 beautifully illustrated, photographed, diagrammed, and written pages on finding whats causing your pain when knitting, and how to fix it.

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