Can knitting cause rotator cuff injury

Can Knitting Cause Rotator Cuff Injury?

While you knit, you use a lot of the muscles of your upper body, which will leave you tensed or worn out if you choose to knit for a longer period. Knitting usually doesn’t directly cause rotator cuff injuries, but it can lead to them. Knitting will use the same muscles repeatedly, which will cause pain from overuse. Knitting will also let you do other work, as you strain yourself a lot.

We all know that marathon knitting causes aches and pains in the body. Your body will require frequent breaks to rest properly. As you take breaks, you can stretch your strained muscles during these breaks. You should rest your hands, wrists, elbows, neck, back, and shoulder for a few weeks or a few days while you rest. In this article, you will know that if you are an avid knitter, you will know a lot about rotator cuff injuries and also their prevention of it.

Key Takeaways

  • We have discussed, in this article, about knitting and how it causes rotator cuff injury.
  • We have also gone through some other common knitting injuries.
  • We have also discussed knitting and its effect on rotator cuff and shoulder.

What Are Common Knitting Injuries?

What are common knitting injuries
What are common knitting injuries

Tendonitis and tendinosis are known to be the most common knitting injuries. If you have inflammation of fibers that connect your bones and muscles, it is known as tendonitis. When your body breaks down collagen from overuse due to repetitive motion, it is known as tendinosis. Tendonitis has a unique form for knitters which is known as tenosynovitis. When the tendons of your wrist or thumb are inflamed, tenosynovitis will occur. This is a very common problem among knitters. It is due to fact that the way they move their hands when they do knitting. Tenosynovitis is also known as “knitter’s wrist” or “knitters thumb” When it is caused by the wrist, it is called “knitter’s wrist” and when it is caused by the thumb, it is called “knitter’s thumb”. “Knitter’s wrist” can be avoided by taking breaks, stretching wrists before and during a long knitting session, or using lighter, more relaxed movements. You can also take a cold compress when you are feeling sore. Knitters are very well-known for these three injuries, although, it is possible to not get them often, so, you do not have to think so much while you knit, instead take some rest.

Does Knitting Cause Shoulder Pain?

Does knitting cause shoulder pain
Does knitting cause shoulder pain

You might get pain in your shoulders and your back from knitting if you do not sit properly and hunch over a lot. Because this will put a lot of strain on your back and upper body when you do, your shoulders are not excluded from it.  You may like to knit for long periods, which will also give you shoulder pain. When you feel that your shoulder starts hurting, you should stop and take a break. You can use an icepack and an over-the-counter pain reliever which will lessen the strain if you are taking a break. If it is needed, take some rest, this will give you some relief from pain.

If you have been knitting for a very long time, it is time for you to listen to your body, because this can lead to tendonitis and carpal tunnel, on top of the shoulder damage. You can feel pain, tension, or cramps in some of your body parts, such as wrists, lower arms, and fingers. All of these are telling you that it is time for you to stop and learn more postures when you knit. In brief, shoulder pain is a common scenario while you knit. People who knit daily for a very long time without taking any breaks are very familiar with it. When you will be knitting, you will have repetitive motion, and you will often lose track of time. To keep track of time and take frequent breaks, you can set some alarms.

Does Knitting Cause Rotator Cuff Injury?

Does knitting cause rotator cuff injury
Does knitting cause rotator cuff injury

As you knit, you are using the same movements constantly, as a result, it can cause repetitive stress injury, which is more acute in people with arthritis. This movement is known as Repetitive strain injury (RSI). This will affect most of your joints and muscles with which you knit. This will also affect your rotator cuff, so by constant movements, your rotator cuff can be injured. It will upset you, because as a knitter you cannot knit, for an injury.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, which is associated with working by sitting for prolonged time. RSI can affect not only the wrists but also the hands, shoulders, neck, back, or a combination of these joints. Knitters will have those injuries because of how the same motions are repeated over and over as stitches are made when you are trying to keep a specific tension on the yarn and holding the weight of a project in your hands as well. RSI is also caused by sitting for too long with a poor posture, gripping the needles tightly, or putting a lot of weight on the wrists. The symptoms of RSI may include numbness, pain, stiffness, swelling, discomfort, and pain which will spread.

Knitting and its effect on the rotator cuff

If you have been knitting for a very long time, your shoulder might feel sore. When people have RSI in their rotator cuffs, they cannot move their shoulders frequently. This can happen gradually or at once, so, knitters will have mild symptoms at the start. Your shoulder will feel very stiff, swollen, and painful. People who have RSI in the shoulder have the feeling of numbness or muscles burning. Knitting may also cause pain to your shoulder as an RSI, but this will not tear your rotator cuff.

Preventions for Repetitive Strain Injuries

It is possible to keep repetitive strain injuries away from us, for this, we have to take these precautions below:

Your posture

Your posture
Your posture

You have to sit upright and in good posture when you are knitting. Slumping is bad for your back and neck, since you are in pain, you need to take more and longer breaks. Get a lumbar support cushion that will support your back as you are sitting. You can also use cushions or pillows under your arms for support, it is beneficial for your health when you are working on a large or heavy project. You should also keep in mind some environmental factors as you knit, the most important of these are light and your light sources.

Good light to work on

Good light to work on
Good light to work on

When you knit, make sure you have good daylight, but some knitters like to knit in the evening. So, if you don’t have to strain your eyes and want to count your stitches, you should have enough light. As there are many different sizes of lamps available, you can try to knit with a desk lamp. If you can, you can use a daylight bulb instead of the usual warm or cool white light bulbs, which will ensure that you see better.

Using a light-up hook for the dark yarn

Using a light-up hook for the dark yarn
Using a light-up hook for the dark yarn

You will find many light-up hooks, where you will find tiny light bulbs inside the hook, when light is on, you will see the tip and your yarn. It will make it easy for you to see the stitches, you will also see the stitch that you have to work on and other surrounding stitches. therefore, you don’t have to squint to see the stitches and strain your eyes while you work.

Tips to Prevent Further Injuries While Knitting

Knitting can cause a lot of health problems, such as tendonitis, repetitive strain injuries (RSI), shoulder pain, etc. on the upper part of your body. If you slouch a lot when you knit or if you are stiff or tensed, you will have trouble with your shoulders, if you have symptoms of RSI or carpal tunnel, check with your doctor. You should also check your posture while you are sitting in the chair. In this situation, you should use an armrest. You can also have tendonitis from knitting. For this, make sure your posture is good and your arms are supported at all times. You can keep a neck pillow when you knit and see if it makes any difference. If you have tendonitis and lots of shoulder pain, try to see a doctor or chiropractor. You can try icing your shoulder, neck and then apply some heat.

We will discuss some more tips which will keep you away from injury and pain in the following manners below:

  • You should take a short break every 10 minutes every half an hour to 45 minutes by standing up, stretching, or walking around a bit.
  • If you feel that your hands/ neck/ back, etc. are getting tired, keep down your project and try to have some rest, don’t wait for joint aches before you put it down.
  • You can do some knitting and hand stretching at the same time, as we have explained above.
  • Try to select knitting needles that will put less strain on your hands and wrists.


Is rotator cuff injury permanent?

If the pain is getting worse, or if you do not have the full range of motion that you had previously, you should visit your orthopedic specialist as soon as possible. When you are leaving this injury without treating it, it can lead to permanent loss of shoulder mobility.

How long does it take for a rotator cuff to repair itself?

If you have minor tears, you can expect to heal within two to four weeks, some rotator cuff injuries will take four to six months or longer to heal. As a result, it depends on the size of the tear to heal, which will take a year before the rotator cuff is completely healed.

Can knitting hurt your shoulder?

When you are sitting with your head down, then you are looking at your work, and then if you are repeating these movements over and over again, this will take its toll on the muscles and joints, especially of the neck and shoulders.

How do you strengthen your rotator cuff?

You can lean forward and after that, you can try placing one hand on a counter or table for support, you can let the other arm hang freely at your side, and you can then gently swing your arm forward and back, do this exercise by moving your arm side-to-side, repeat this in a circular motion. You can repeat this entire sequence with another arm.

How do you test for rotator cuff injury?

Your doctor might request some imaging tests to diagnose your torn rotator cuff such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Final Thoughts

As we have discussed so far, knitting can cause some severe damage to your body. This damage can happen to a specific area of your body, such as the rotator cuff as an RSI, although you will not get a torn shoulder from it when you take proper precautions. It is possible to reduce the chances of getting an RSI by taking frequent breaks and knitting less. This can be frustrating, as you will have more breaks from work, but in the end, you should be able to finish your project without any physical pain. Remember to stretch your arms, shoulders, and wrists during and after knitting, and when you will be stretching your body, it will make you feel better. During these shorter knitting sessions, your muscles will also get some rest.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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