We are big knitting fans at the “Friend”, so this advice proves very helpful
For those of us who enjoy knitting, it comes as a surprise that there is a correct way to engage in our favourite pastime. However, Physiotherapist, Mark Fletcher tells us that there is a way to enjoy knitting for much, much longer.
Mark has been a Chartered Physiotherapist for 23 years, running his own practice in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, before launching Physio Med. Mark is the Clinical Director at Physio Med, an occupational physiotherapy provider with clinics in Leeds and Guiseley.
We’re sure Mark knows his stuff, he was also head physio for rugby Super League team the Bradford Bulls between 1999 and 2002. Now we’re not sure if there’s a connection between knitting and rugby, but we do know it’s important to look after our bodies.
Mark tells us why in our exclusive interview;
Knitting involves sitting for long periods of time, is there a way to sit correctly?
The most important thing to remember is to maintain the curvature of the lower spine. Your lower spine should curve away from the back of the chair and the best way to make sure this happens is to support it.
Some people may already have a chair with lumbar support built in, in which case you can knit away! However, if your knitting chair isn’t supportive, a good idea is to put cushions at the base of your spine as this will do the same job. Supporting your lower spine is very important because it also helps keep your neck and head in a comfortable position, helping prevent neck ache as well as backache.
If you still find yourself sitting uncomfortably though, it might be time to look for a new chair!
What effect can sitting incorrectly, or for too long, have on the body?
Sitting incorrectly puts extra pressure on certain parts of your body and can cause neck and back pain. Sitting for too long can increase your risk of heart disease and prevents you from burning off as many calories as you would if you were being active, meaning you may be at risk of piling on the pounds! Did you know that, when sitting still, you burn off fewer calories than if you were just chewing gum?!
What joints are affected in particular?
Long periods of sitting can affect the whole of the spine, which can then affect the neck and shoulders. This, in turn, can also affect the arms and cause issues with the elbows and wrists.
Is there a length of time that you should sit for? Should you have breaks?
Sitting for longer than 20 mins has a negative effect on your body, including an increase in musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain. Experts recommend moving regularly to avoid these negative effects using the 20/20 principle – 20 seconds away from your sitting position every 20 minutes. Even if you just stand for a few seconds or walk a few paces, standing up every 20-30 minutes is the best way to avoid back and neck ache.
What can you recommend for the potential bending of the shoulders in knitting?
Bending your shoulders while knitting is inevitable but you can at least stop your shoulders from hurting and this goes back to making sure you are sitting properly. By making sure your lower spine is supported, you will naturally cause your lower back to curve one way while your rib cage curves the other, reducing stress on the discs in your lower back, as well as reducing the amount of work your muscles are doing, which helps keep your neck in a neutral position and, in turn, helps your shoulders.
Again, standing up every twenty minutes or so will help give your knitting muscles a break too!
Another thing to consider is the chair you’re knitting in. Ideally, it will have armrests and, if it does, they should support your arms in your preferred knitting position. Chairs with adjustable armrests are particularly useful as you can raise or lower them until you’re comfortable, but be careful not to set the armrests too high as this can cause your shoulders to shrug, which increases stress in the shoulders and can be painful.
Do you think the benefits of mental wellbeing in knitting outweighs the negatives it has on the body?
Everything in moderation! Knitting can be very relaxing and enjoyable, which is good for your mental wellbeing, however, sitting for too long in the wrong position can lead to unnecessary pain.
What do you recommend for a good combination of the two?
If you find a good seat that puts your body in a good position and remember to take regular breaks from knitting, you’ll be knitting comfortably again in no time!
What do you enjoy most about being a physiotherapist?
Reducing pain, improving movement and seeing the positive impact this has on people’s day-to-day lives.
And, lastly, what is your favourite book?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
We extend a huge thank you to Mark for his advice, do let us know if you find this helpful or if you already use similar techniques. We’re certainly going to take them onboard at the “Friend”.
Do you remember the time we got Alex to knit? Re-live the memories by watching our video