By Jen Taber, OT, CHT
Summer is here and we are anxious to participate in our favorite activities! We often don’t think about how big a part our hands play in helping us to do those things we love. Sometimes pain can prevent us from enjoying activities to their fullest, but there are helpful tips that can be incorporated to minimize the symptoms. They are called joint protection techniques.
“Joint protection techniques are ways of doing activities so that the risk of overuse/pain is decreased. These techniques can be included into all activities and will help to reduce the stress on your joints. Joints that have already been weakened by arthritis are at risk of being damaged by stress and strain. Improper use of diseased joints may lead to impaired function and deformity.” (Spectrum Health Joint Protection Techniques handout)
For example, if you enjoy gardening, make sure you are breaking up the tasks or switching activities so that you are not constantly grasping the handles of the shovel or pinching to pull up weeds. This ensures that a variety of muscles are being used and joint surfaces do not become overly compressed and irritated. Adaptations to tools such as enlarged/padded handles or spring loaded options, can decrease stresses on the joints for those who have arthritis to accomplish tasks much easier.
Some people enjoy mowing the lawn but it can also be taxing to the small joints of the hand. Holding onto the handles for long periods of time or the vibration can cause numbness/tingling in the hands. Periodic breaks during an activity like this is important. Also, using anti-vibration gloves may be helpful in reducing the impact to the carpal tunnel area and can be found at a local hardware store or online.
Finally, you should prioritize activities you want to accomplish during the day. Consider how long the activity takes and plan those that are more difficult to do during times that allow you to take breaks. Regardless of the activity, respecting pain is of utmost importance.
Hopefully the tips mentioned above, assist you in completing the activities you have been waiting months to do! SO GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY!
Photo by Zhivko - Pixabay