Pick up those knitting needles and take out those sewing machines - done the right way, both activities can be great physical therapy for your arthritis! According to Occupational Therapist Jill Noaker-Luck, "Any activity that gets hand joints moving is a good thing, provided it's not used as a substitute for prescribed exercise."
Looking for a fun way to work out those fingers? Check out the new line of instructional sewing videos from "The Sew Teacher" at http://www.sewteacher.com/. Each video demonstrates how you can design and produce a different home decorative product in the comfort of your own home (provided you have a sewing machine). Some of their featured products include pillows, window treatments, and bedding. Their creative director (and instructor), Beth Bates, does a fabulous job of guiding you through each step of the sewing process, using simple and easy-to-follow instructions. I like to say she makes everything seem "sew" easy!
And if you're more interested in picking up a pair of needles, check out the 5 knitting tips below (some which can apply to sewing, too), featured in a recent article in the "Just Diagnosed" issue of Arthritis Today. The article, titled "Make Knitting Finger Friendly" encourages arthritis sufferers to work out the kinks keeping the following in mind:
1) Start small and pick a project like a hat or a scarf
2) Support your arms and hands with pillows for maximum comfort. The activity should make your joints more comfortable. If not, take a moment to rest.
3) Use rubber fingertips to help you grip the needles
4) Bamboo needles are lighter, warmer and not as slippery as Teflon-coated or metal needles
5) Take a break every 15 minutes or so - just to stretch your hands, neck and back
Take it from someone who used to cringe at the thought of threading a needle ("you want me to thread this skinny little thing into that little hole using these big ole' throbbing fingers?"). If I was feeling good enough and needed a little finger exercise to loosen up the joints, knitting or sewing a small project would be just the thing!