Your Hands Are Your Tools, Take Care of Them

I am currently working on another large order. In doing so, my hands have been non stop working. As a result, my arms, wrists, shoulders are aching for me to stop. Knowing I still have quite a bit to go, I sat there and thought of all the lessons that have been driven into my head by my college professors. You see, not only am I an avid crocheter and crafter, but I am also a graduated massage therapist. Throughout my years in school, it was always drilled into us that our hands and arms are our tools and we need to take care of them. They  gave us little tips and tricks to keep us from wearing out early with the added stress that we are putting our bodies through.

Then it dawned on me, why am I not doing these things when I am trying to finish off orders? Or doing them at all period whenever I am creating? I am quite sure that most of you out there have had these sames aches and pains. Wrists cracking, forearms getting sore from the constant turning and weaving of yarn. Shoulders screaming for you to rest and stretch. But do we all know these little stretches that can save us from these pains? Probably not. Most people just shrug it off as tension and jump into a bath, or run a hot shower. Not bad ideas, if you are continually stretching and strengthening those muscles that you need to keep up with your daily work or hobbies.

So I thought I would share with you today a few little tricks that will save your hands.

Forearms:

  • We all know that simple stretch, extend your elbow, flex your wrist downwards and hold. Usually we are told to hold for 30 seconds and then stop, but the best way to stretch is to keep holding until the stretch feels like its going away. 
  • Next, with your elbow still extended, flew your wrist upwards toward the ceiling. Again, hold until the stretch starts to feel like its going away.

**Note: Do not overstretch! A stretch should not hurt. If it starts to hurt, lessen the pressure until you feel the stretch but it does not hurt**

Wrists:

  • Place your palms together, like you are praying, hold your elbows out at a 90 degree angle. This stretch you will feel along the under side of your wrists
  • Clasp your hands together, and rotate them in a sort of figure 8 pattern, repeat this 10 times
  • Hold your arm out frontwards again at a 90 degree angle. Tuck your thumb into a fist, and tilt your fist towards the floor. This stretch can be a bit difficult, and if causes pain,  again decrease the amount of stretch until it does not cause you pain. 
  • Do a range of motion with your fingers – For each finger pull gently 4 times, and rotate  it in a circle and up and down.

Now I personally have shoulder issues, knowing that I tend to hunch forward with my shoulders rolled forwards as well, need to stretch my pec muscles. 

To do this:

  • Find a corner of a wall
  • stand parallel to the corner with your arm outstretched at a 90 degree angle to the side, with your palm flat on the wall. (For example, you are stretching the right side, stand with your right arm out to the side palm against the wall)
  • With your palm still on the wall take ONE step forward
  • You should feel the stretch from the the top of your shoulder joint and into the chest, pec area. 
  • Repeat on opposite side

A lot of people have troubles with their trap (Trapezius) muscles. They are the ones that are on top of your shoulder, running from your neck into the shoulder joint. 

For these:

  1. Sit on a chair
  2. Again we will use the right side as an example: Grasp the bottom of the chair with your right hand
  3. Tilt your head to the left,
  4. using your left hand, apply slight pressure to the stretch by pulling your head a bit further to the left side
  5. Once the stretch feels like it is dissipating, bring your head back up to a neutral position, Turn your head from side to side
  6. Repeat steps 1 – 3, before applying pressure to the stretch, while tilting your head to the left, turn your head to the left as well, as if sniffing your armpit (I know doesn’t sound pleasant does it?)
  7. Again apply pressure slightly to further the stretch if needed.
  8. Repeat on other side

Another quick tip, if you are suffering from tendinitis or carpel tunnel, you can do a quick ice bath to help relieve the pain and burning that accompanies it.

Ice Bath:

  • You will need a large basin, ice and cool water
  • Fill the basin with cool water, and add the ice (Yes very simple)
  • Submerge your elbow, wrist, forearm, what ever is bothering you, into the ice bath
  • REMEMBER – Only keep your arm in the bath until it goes numb. No longer! If you keep your arm submerged longer than initial numbness, you can risk further damage.

I am happy to help with any other areas needing care if I haven’t touched on them. 

Just remember, your hands are your tools and you need to take care of them.

Cheers and happy healthy crafting!

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