Gripping, lifting and carrying are essential for dozens of daily tasks, so it’s important to do them in a joint-friendly way to avoid pain and injury. Carole Dodge, an occupational therapist at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, offers this advice.
Mind your thumbs. If you have thumb pain, a common arthritis-related problem, avoid picking up or carrying purses, bags or other items in an overhand grasp with your fingers curled under the handle. Instead, use both hands, palms facing up, to scoop the bag to a higher surface, like a countertop or chair, then loop the strap over your forearm or shoulder.
Lighten up. Don’t overload grocery bags, laundry baskets or purses. Take only what you need for the day in your purse or workbag, and make multiple trips for laundry or groceries. In the kitchen, consider replacing heavy pots and pans with lighter-weight kitchenware or simply store them on the countertop.
Use your large joints. Take stress off of the smaller joints in your hands and wrists by holding items close to your body, which helps distribute the weight. And when you can, slide heavy objects instead of lifting them.
Enlarge handles. Slip foam pipe insulation on to handles of all kinds, from eating utensils and hair brushes to screwdrivers and gardening tools. The tubing is available in different sizes at home improvement stores. Cut to the right length, slide it on (it comes split down the middle) and secure with tape if needed.
Get an assist. Use rolling suitcases, computer cases and even a small rolling cart for the kitchen to ferry cans from the panty or dishes to the table and take stress off of joints.