Knitting for charity pain free

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Crocheting or knitting for charity pain free is possible if you follow these basic rules for injury prevention.

I know that many of you are crocheting and knitting multiple squares day and night, and as a result AIDS orphans who were cold now sleep warmly at night. But at no stage should any of you suffer an injury as a result of your wonderful endeavours.

Here are some basic rules for injury prevention to help ensure that you remain pain free and can crochet and knit until your hearts content.

Rules for injury prevention

1. To prevent injury, start with a basic training schedule

2. Never knit or crochet when you have a current injury

3. Stop knitting or crocheting immediately there is any pain. Always work in a pain free range.

4. Stop knitting or crocheting when you feel fatigued and are recruiting other muscles to help continue your work

5. Knit and crochet in good light to avoid eye strain

6. Maintain good posture while you knit or crochet

These are general guidelines for injury prevention. If you have any concerns about being in pain or discomfit, please consult your health care practitioner. As with all injuries, after seeking and following professional advice a full recovery can generally be made and a return to knitting and crocheting possible.

1. To prevent injury, start with a basic training schedule
You are attempting to be a marathon knitter and crocheter. And as such, like any elite athlete, you need to train to be able to knit and crochet with endurance. Too many of you, especially those of you learning how to knit or crochet, or picking up your knitting needles or crochet hook again after years away from the craft, just launch straight hours of work.

Start slowly and build up. As a rule of thumb, you could start by working for 20 to 30 minutes a day, slowly on a sliding scale according to half your age. So for example:

20 for 10 days
30 for 15 days
50 for 25 days
70 for 35 days.

This will give your wrists and arms the opportunity to build strength and endurance just as a marathon runner must train over months even years to first run the distance and secondly run fast.

2. Never knit or crochet when you have a current injury
If you have an form of injury to your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck of back, then DO NOT KNIT OR CROCHET. Wait until the inflammation has settled down and you are completely pain free before starting again or you have been given the go ahead by your health practitioner.

3. Stop knitting or crocheting immediately there is any pain. Always work in a pain free range.
Stop knitting or crocheting the moment you are not pain free in your hands, wrist, forearms, shoulders, neck or back. Always work in a pain free range.

4. Stop knitting or crocheting when you feel fatigued and are recruiting other muscles to help continue
Do not push past the point of fatigue. Be aware of 'trick' movements of your body, such as hitching up of the shoulders, artificially supporting your arms (resting them on an armrest for example) as this means your arms are too tired to hold themselves up on their own. If you are over recruiting your shoulder muscles to support your arms, or constantly stretching your neck or have a headache, then this is an indication of fatigue and you should stop knitting and crocheting.

5. Knit and crochet in good light to avoid eye strain
Try to knit or crochet in natural light, near a window or if at night with a good light using a day light globe to avoid eye strain. if your eyes are straining, you are more likely to recruit neck and shoulder muscles to hold you closer to your work and this may result in an injury.

6. Maintain good posture while you knit or crochet
Good postural guidelines:
- sit in a comfortable chair that supports your back well with your feet on the floor
- your back should be supported so that it can maintain a normal neutral spinal position (all the normal curves of the spine in place). Twisting and slouching for long periods may case strain and injury.
- your work should be held in the midline position, with your shoulders and neck feeling relaxed.

Basic stretches
It is generally recommended that you do stretches if you are training your muscles. As with any activity where you have not used muscles in this way before consistently, they should have length, strength and endurance and be able to relax completely to ensure injury prevention.

R.I.C.E. injury prevention
If you are unable to see your health practitioner immediately, then the recommended Level 2 First Aid rule in Australia is R.I.C.E Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

REST: stop knitting and crocheting. Continuing to do so may worsen the injury or cause additional problems

ICE: This speeds up healing by contracting the blood vessels and reducing the inflammation. It can be done using a pack of frozen peas or crushed ice blocks in a tea towel. Keep a layer of cloth between the ice and your skin. Apply twice a day (or more if advised by a health practitioner) for no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

COMPRESSION: Also assists to speed up healing by reducing any swelling. Use an elastic bandage and wrap the injured area firmly but not so tightly that it affects your blood flow. if it is too tight it will cause further swelling.

ELEVATION: Generally means having the injured part above the level of your heart. So if it is your hand, wrist or forearm, then wear a sling so that it is raised or use pillows to rest it on. This should help decrease pain.

Consult your health practitioner if pain persists and remember to prevent injury and get fit for knitting and crocheting, do not return to your work until you are entirely pain free.

I hope these basic guidelines to injury prevention help you avoid any injuries and allow you to crochet and knit pain free for years to come.

And especially to keep the AIDS orphans of Southern Africa warm.

Please subscribe to the Square Circle ezine for stories of your 'pain free' squares arriving in South Africa, the children and their blankets.