Certified hand therapist Michelle McMurray, MOT, OTR/L, CHT discusses how you can save your joints while performing daily activities.
Sometimes it is our small, every day activities in our daily routines that we overlook. As we get busy with our daily lives, sometimes we are not aware of the little things that we do that can ultimately add up to big problems. We hear about many things that we can do to protect our joints, but in the business of daily lives we forget about ourselves…and our joints.
Here are some examples of some basic tasks we do all the time that can eventually lead to bigger problems:
When scrubbing carpet to remove a stain, it is very common that we pinch the cloth and apply pressure. A big problem that can occur if you happen to quickly catch the end of your finger is a mallet finger. This is an injury that leaves a droop at the end of the finger. The rehab process can be long and tedious. The easiest way to avoid this is to grip the rag with a fist or use a brush with a handle.
With technology, we do not write as much as we did in the past. In that case, we are sometimes hurried when doing this activity, which may lead to increased pressure and gripping on the writing utensil. One thing that can help to decrease the pressure on the thumb is increasing the diameter of the pen/pencil.
One of the easy and cost-effective ways to do this is to use Coban and wrap it around the writing utensil. I encourage my patients to purchase a roll of Coban and wrap it around the end of the utensil until it feels comfortable.
One of the easiest modifications that can be done in regards to elbow pain is to change the way we lift simple items throughout our daily lives. Instead of reaching for a jar over the top by the lid, come at it from the side or underneath. This uses a different muscle group (the flexors) and decreases the stress to the wrist extensors and the muscles that stabilize the wrist.
4. Yard Work
Even though it is spring, it does not mean that there are no longer leaves in our yards! As we get the rakes out, be mindful of how you hold and move the rake. Similar to holding a pencil, as discussed above, the tighter we hold the item, the more stress on our joints and tissues. One suggestion is to make a conscious effort to vary the hand positions on the rake so that one side is not doing all the work.
5. Holding Children
New addition to the family? The quick and easy way to pick up the unhappy infant is to hook our thumbs in their armpits and lift. Problem solved. Temporarily. Unfortunately, repeated used of this motion can cause irritation. This irritation carries over to activities involving pinching, writing and other fine motor activities involving the thumb.
Solution: When picking up the child, use a scooping technique with one hand under the bottom and the other cradling the back. It is awkward at first, but over time, it saves on the discomfort and pain that can be caused.
Learn more about hand conditions and injuries at www.HandCare.org.