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I understand that this will happen regardless with this kind of relative motion. Especially with smaller models where your hands are constantly trying to keep proper tension of the yarn.

Still though, this is something that all crocheters must deal with. I suppose the easiest thing to do is take breaks but I wonder if there is more to it than that.

What, as a crocheter, can I do to help mitigate pain and cramping that I get while working? Perhaps this would apply to knitting as well.

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  • Have you tried compression gloves or any other methods already, besides taking breaks? – user24 Aug 29 '16 at 2:16
  • While I have not tried compression gloves (never actually heard of them) I usually hate using gloves because I miss that tactile feeling. Will look them up now all the same. Breaks is the only thing I have tried in conjunction will stretches but only after I cramp. – Matt Aug 29 '16 at 2:20
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So I'm a big knitter and crocheter and a musician with tendinitis for the past 20 years. Aside from the standard advice (NSAIDs, massage, etc) there are a few things that you can do to mitigate the situation.

First, make sure that the amount of pressure you're using is the bare minimum amount possible. It may actually take some time to retrain your hands, but it's worth taking the time to do it. You may want to slow down a little bit, focus on using as little effort as possible, and then speed up gradually using the same amount of pressure.

Second, with knitting and crochet you can also mitigate repetitive strain by making your movements as small as possible. This of course has an added bonus of making your stitches a bit faster.

Third, you may want to experiment with different styles and materials of hooks/needles. I can barely use a standard boye aluminum hook, but I find that when the hook has a nice handle, it actually helps a lot. The lightness of the hook and the resistance of the material will also make a difference.

The last point of advice that I have for you is that if you start to feel any pain at all, stop, stretch, and give yourself a few minutes before you go back to it. It might be kind of tedious at first, but if you avoid damage while retraining your muscles to move lighter, smaller, and with less pressure, you should be able to retrain yourself so that long term you can crochet without any pain at all. It took for me about 3 months to really fully go through the retraining, but it's made a HUGE difference in my ability to do all of the things that I actually want to do.

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As with any repetitive strain injury (RSI), rest, moist-heat-then-ice, massage, compression, NSAIDs and, of course, physical therapy can all help. For me, I've generally found that plenty of aerobic exercise to increase circulation through tight sore muscles is what will fix/relieve RSI issues the most quickly for me. YMMV. The main problem is that this is a long-term solution that can take months or years, not days, and healing will go a helluva lot faster if you simply stop the activity that's causing the pain or at least limit how much time you spend on it. But ignoring the pain and working through is liable to increase the injury and severity and frequency of pain. Geek hyperfocus and right-brain loss of time sense are not your friends, here. Slowing down might help, too.

Understand, also, that what hurts may not be pinpointing where the mechanical problem of muscle strain actually lies. You may have pain in your fingers, wrist, forearm, or elbow, but the actual mechanical problem could be in the shoulder, neck, or back. Pay attention to posture, and which muscles are actually in use, and concentrate on finding positions to relax them.

Ultimately, if this begins to bother you outside of the activity, or if you discern nerve damage, medical advice is the best way to go. Keyboard and trackball/pad RSI to the point of nerve damage meant I had to give up knitting altogether, since I still needed to be able to keyboard full time to earn a living. Healing was also, thus, incredibly slow, even wearing splits 24-7 for 9 months. Consider whether or not you can trade in some keyboard time for crochet time, or stay off keyboards outside of business hours. :)

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  • I have learned that the best way to avoid RSI injuries is to take a short break every so often. That is about 1 second every 20 or 5 seconds every minute, and the longer you wait between the short breaks the longer the breaks need to be. In crochetting from a pattern you might read the next set of instructions in one break, take a sip of tea in the next, look up and chat with someone for a few lines, and so on. – Willeke Feb 7 '17 at 16:42
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Old post, but I thought I would chime in with a couple of additional ideas. I prefer knitting to crochet, and I was having the same issue with knitting. One solution I found was to adjust my technique. It is easy to find information about different knitting techniques (continental knitting, throwing/English style, using knitting pins). Each of them requires slightly different movements of your hands, and can allow you to continue switch techniques if you start feeling pain.

I couldn't find much on alternate crochet techniques, but one that I did run across was crocheting left-handed. If you normally crochet right handed, teach yourself to crochet left-handed as well, and then you can switch off when one hand gets tired. Just make sure not to work on the same project when you switch hands...I speak from experience when I say that your gauge will be completely different when you use a different technique, so you probably want to stick to one technique for an entire project.

Other suggestions--try using different yarn. Cotton/linen/hemp and silk yarns are noted for limited stretch. Polyester yarn can also be less stretchy. If you are using one of these fibers, try switching to a wool yarn and see if it is easier on your hands.

Try crafting in a different location--your posture can impact your wrists and hands in unexpected ways. Pain from tight shoulders or neck can radiate into your hands and wrists.

I wouldn't waste your money on those stress-relief gloves...they have never done anything for me, or for anyone else I know who has tried them.

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If you are pushing yourself to the point of pain, STOP; ... if you want to crochet, or enjoy ANY repetitive motion craft into advanced age.

Consider setting a timer and schedule multiple,shorter crafting periods.

If you give up the intense drive to finish projects NOW for the joy of practicing a life long, much loved craft activity, you will preserve both your joints and your crafting activities.

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The gloves mentioned in the comments are typically fingerless. Here's an example of some specifically designed for yarn-crafters.

http://www.lionbrand.com/lion-brand-yarn-stress-relief-gloves.html

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