Everyday Ways to Protect Your Joints

Health Professional
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Reduce wear and tear

If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from arthritis, you know that it's important to limit the amount of stress you put on your joints.  This will both reduce the amount of pain you're in and slow the "wear and tear" caused by even seemingly harmless, everyday chores.

Carry heavy loads close to your body

When you're lifting or carrying things around the house or during shopping trips, make sure to carry them close to your body.  By holding things close to your body, the objects will feel lighter and you will reduce the strain you're putting on your back.

Use shoulder straps

If you must carry a purse, piece of luggage or briefcase, choose one that has a shoulder strap.  This will reduce the strain on your hands and fingers.  If your bag does not have a shoulder strap, try looping its handles over your forearm instead of using your hand to carry it. Be sure everything you carry is as light as possible.

Use your palms

When picking up plates or serving dishes, lift them with your fingers just enough to slide your palms beneath them to carry them. If you're drinking coffee or tea out of a mug or teacup, cup your hand around the vessel instead of using the handle. This will minimize stress on your fingers. Holding books with your palms while reading and turning off light switches with your palms will also help protect your hands.

Avoid stooping

Stooping and reaching to get items in your kitchen or bathroom can become exhausting and puts strain on your joints.  If possible, move cleaners, trash bags and other oft-used items to shelves or counters that are between shoulder and hip level. Then move things used less often to those lower or higher shelves and cabinets.

Get some wheels

When doing yard work or shopping, consider using a small wagon, garden cart or wheeled shopping basket to carry your items while you work or shop.  You might also try a backpack or a fanny pack to carry things since these will help distribute the weight and keep you from concentrating the burden on your hands and arms.

Stretch your muscles

If you sit all day at work, make sure you stand up and walk around at regular intervals. This will help reduce joint stiffness and stretch your muscles. Similarly, if you stand all day, be sure to spend time sitting to give your weight-bearing joints a rest.

Add tools or appliances

Electric can openers, dish washers and food processors can really help reduce your chore time and decrease strain on your hands, arms, shoulders and back.  If electric appliances are out of your budget, there are many non-electric appliances that can help.  Something as simple as a manual food chopper is an inexpensive way to spare your joints.