Arm Support While Knitting

Are there any products designed to offer arm support while knitting? I have been having a problem with my right upper arm/shoulder (for which I am unable to get a clear diagnosis…one Doctor told me it is rotator cuff tendonitis, another thinks it’s a torn labrum and a third thinks it’s due to a problem with my brachialis) and I am wrecked that I can’t knit comfortably without surrounding myself with pillows. I hoping to find a single source solution that is easier to live with (it stinks to have to dismantle my pillow fort to get up to go to the bathroom). I have read that some people use a Boppy nursing pillow but before I take the plunge (they are expensive!) I thought I would ask if a) they work and b) does anyone have an alternative? Any information is greatly appreciated!

Typically, the most comfortable position for a shoulder is going to be with a small amount of support that creates an open joint position. This can work for all of the diagnosis you listed above. An open joint position will occur in most people when their arm is hanging down at their side, more or less in the position it would be if they were standing up straight, and if the elbow is positioned a small distance, like a hand width/4", from the person’s torso.

I can’t describe the position precisely because it makes a difference how much flesh you have under your arm, and a few other factors.

Sit comfortably with your back supported. Use a thin-ish bed pillow. Orient the pillow so the long side is parallel to the floor. Stuff the pillow up in your armpit so that your upper arm bone is fully supported and such that an equal amount of the pillow sticks out behind your arm and in front of your arm. Bend your elbow and rotate your arm towards your belly. Your lower arm bone and hand will be resting on the front end of the pillow. The back end of the pillow will prevent your elbow from falling into the chair you’re sitting in.

Once in this position, relax. Gently move the arm around, only changing the position a little bit at a time, exploring… Hopefully you will find that “just right position” that’s comfortable.

This open joint position affords the tissue within the joint the best opportunity for nutrient exchange, it decreases any kind of pinching caused by inflammation inside the joint and allows for the free flow of blood. It can also decrease pressure on the nerves that pass through the shoulder.

Depending on the positioning you are used to when you knit, this open joint position could be very accommodating or very problematic. Think about your lighting and supporting your project on another pillow to to get the knitting where it needs to be. It’s probably easier to move the knitting around than to find a different position that the shoulder will be comfortable in that is also easy to achieve.

Additional unrequested advice: Honestly a good PT should be able to help you with your shoulder notwithstanding the diagnosis. A torn labrum is the most problematic, but all can improve with therapy, and the therapy for one of those diagnoses is not all that different from the therapy for the others.

Good luck and happy knitting!


Thank you for your very informative post. The detailed description youhave provided does help. I have tried it twice and I think I have found a comfortable position with the pillow.

My PT is great, however, he is beginning to question the various medical “opinions” I have received and thinks it might be TOS…oh well…at least I can knot comfortably now.

Thank you for your advice.


Yay, I am glad you are able to knit comfortably now, even if you don’t know what is what exactly is going on with your shoulder!