All knitters know what I’m talking about. After spending hours on your latest project (usually with little or no breaks), you can really feel it in the wrists and shoulders. One of the reasons I haven’t been knitting as much in the past few years has in fact been a niggling sensation on my hands, caused by holding the yarn in tension for so long.
I put together a short yoga sequence that really targets these areas and aims not to just stretch them to release tension, but also to strengthen them so that you have fewer problems in the future (also, it’s worth considering your knitting technique. I’ve recently switched to Portuguese and really enjoying it –but more on that later!). So pause your knitting for a few minutes and let’s ‘unravel’ your wrists and shoulders (see what I did there?).
If you have persistent wrist or forearm pain, it’s worth speaking with your doctor or other healthcare professional to avoid any long-term issues like RSI.
Starting in a comfortable seated position (on the floor or even seated on a chair), bring the palms of the hands together and interlace the fingers. Then start making figures of eight with your wrists. You should be mainly bending your wrists here, with the rest of your arm staying steady (imagine what an unwound skein of yarn looks like – that’s what we want). Repeat for around 30 seconds.
We’ll now work to strengthen the wrists. Staying seated, open out your arms to the side, hands towards the ceiling, palms facing forwards. Then start flicking your fingers open and closed, really stretching them as open as you can. Flick, flick, Flick! Your wrists will get tired very quickly, but don’t stop! Try to keep going for 30 seconds, then shake the wrists out and thank them for being so awesomely strong!
Ok, you probably spend a lot of your time knitting hunched over (I know I do) – so let’s bring some movement into the spine and release some tension. Come into a four-point kneeling position, with your wrists under your elbows and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers really wide like starfish.
On your next in-breath, arch your back, really pulling the shoulders back and opening the chest.
On your next exhale, round your back and shoulders, drop your head and tuck your tailbone in. Repeat at least five times, feeling a little more open with each round.
Now we’re going to make our cat–cow a power one by focusing on strengthening the shoulders.
Find a neutral spine, keeping the hips and pelvis strong and steady. Then on your next in-breath bring the tips of your shoulder blades together, imagining that you have an orange in between them and you are trying to squeeze it – make sure that the rest of your spine is still in neutral. Hold for five breaths.
Exhale to release, doming at the shoulder blades like you are trying to push them as far apart as you can, again keeping spine in neutral. Hold for five breaths. Repeat your power cat-–cow five times.
This one will divide crowds – some people find this excruciating, others don’t feel a thing. Make sure you listen to your body and find the stretch you need.
Turn your hands so that your fingers are now facing your knees. Tuck your toes and start to lean your weight back, very gently stretching the wrists. Only lean back as far as you need to feel a stretch. Hold for 10 breaths and release, shaking the hands out.
Almost there! Come to lie on your belly, then slowly lift your chest up and place your forearms on the ground, elbows stacked under your shoulders and finders spread wide. Feel an opening in the front of the body and a strengthening in your back muscles. You can keep your face facing forwards or relax the head down to release the neck. Hold for 10 breaths.
Last one – we are finally casting off!
This one really stretches the shoulders and brings a nice release to the neck. Coming back to a seated position, bring your forearms our so that they are parallel to the floor, wrap your right elbow under your left and, if you can, bring the palms of the hands together. Really push your shoulder blades apart, and allow your neck to release by bringing your head in the cradle of your elbows. Hold here for 10 breaths, then repeat with the opposite arm wrap.