Fine motor skills are defined as the coordination and control of small muscle movements in the hands, fingers, and wrists.
Fine motor skills are what enable people to perform precise and delicate actions.
They involve eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, and grip strength.
It is critical for children's development and starts at a young age. Strengthening those skills is the way for children to increase their ability to perform daily tasks:
Cutting with scissors, tying shoelaces, drawing and writing, typing, buttoning a shirt, cooking, playing an instrument, crafting… pretty much anything that involves manipulating tools or utensils lies in our fine motor skills and abilities.
Those abilities directly link to one's success, academically and in sport, or any art form.
As we age, our fine motor skills may decline. It is natural, but we can maintain and improve them by simply practicing.
Interestingly, the more we use them, the more skilled we become!
Implications go beyond the one task at hand: Developing fine motor skills leads to more cognitive and executive benefits, improving quality of life, and being vital for an independent life.
What can we do about it?
Glad you ask!!
Any crafting activity is a great way to improve your fine motor skills… and the benefits of practice will expand beyond the chosen activity: embroidery, sewing, crocheting… woodworking… you pick!
I picked! Mine is knitting!
Behind the needles, venturing in the stitches, I have found more than the production of beautiful handmade items.
I discovered the versatility of the countless possibilities of creating items, designs, textures, materials, combinations, and variations. What I also found are the multitude of benefits of both mental and physical health.
Physically, knitting helps develop fine motor skills in different ways:
- Dexterity: Precision and accuracy are necessary for knitting. The repetitive motions engage muscles in the hands and fingers, developing strength and agility. Intricating the yarn in loops and manipulating the needles, regardless of the complexity of the pattern, allows us to refine our motor skills at any age in small and precise movements.
- Bilateral coordination: Knitting involves coordination of both hands. There are different methods and positions of fingers and hands, but every knitter develops his / her own tricks and moves to use both hands in the most efficient way for each of us. "There is no right way to knit, only your way" said Elizabeth Zimmerman (famous British knitter and designer, who taught America for years).
This bilateral coordination, finding our personal touch, is crucial in all the activities we perform, such as typing, writing, or using any utensils, even simply a fork and a knife!
- Eye-hand coordination: Knitting necessitates concentration and focus, using both hands and following a pattern. The ability to read a pattern and translate it into the appropriate hand and finger movements, and simultaneously tracking and counting stitches and rows, enhances our ability to synchronize the visual perception with our actions. It improves our brain's abilities to treat, assess, and manage multiple sources of information, all at once. Then, our brain, without us realizing it, analyzes and turns the results into actions. That is our ability to play many sports, drive, or play video games. Truly and deeply, it is our problem-solving ability.
From building, and maintaining, to improving fine motor skills, there is an actual chain reaction for a general better living.
Strong fine motor skills lead to improved cognitive functions: focus, concentration, memory, patience, and perseverance.
It, in turn, leads to higher executive functions: reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem-solving.
Eventually, it contributes to better well-being and a happier life: independence and autonomy, a sense of control and accomplishment, less stress and anxiety, and increased self-confidence.
Knitting might be seen as a hobby, but knitters know it is a way of life and a higher meaning.
Michelle Obama, (yes, herself), a relatively recent “knit-addict”, says it well in her last book “The light we carry”:
“Every small stitch builds into a bigger purpose."
Can I agree more?
I’m going to quote myself… Yes, right after Michelle Obama... because... why not?
“Every stitch you make is a demonstration of love.
Every stitch you make is a piece of you.”
Whether self-love or love for another soul, you give your time, energy, and undivided attention to create those stitches.
“Knitting is the perfect antidote to a chaotic world. It brings peace, solace, and a sense of accomplishment”.
I can only conclude here by saying:
Here is the prescription is #Movetheneedles, one stitch at a time, and knit your way to a better life!