Make your arthritis better through better body mechanics

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Proper body mechanics are important for arthritis patients to master. It makes performing the activities of daily living much easier.

This information was obtained from sources with the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institutes of Health...

Distribute the load over a greater area or on stronger joints.

By spreading the load you reduce stress on joints. For example, instead of grasping and carrying, using your forearms to carry a load places less stress on the small joints of the hand. So...use your elbows and shoulders and palms of the hands instead of the fingers. An example would be using your elbow to carry a plastic container… or using the palm of your hand to use a pump or spray bottle.

Relieve the fingers!

You can wring out washcloths by draping them over a faucet and squeezing the water out with your palms instead of using your hands and fingers to wring the washcloth.

Equip your doors with levers instead of doorknobs. Attach a strap to your cupboard or refrigerator door and put your hand through the loop and use your forearm to pull instead of using your hand.

Use a scrubber mitt instead of a small scrubber.

If you need to use a rolling pin, use your palms to roll instead of gripping the handles.

A sponge is better to use for wiping counter tops than a rag. You can squeeze the sponge out by pressing down on the sponge with the palm of your hand.

Use your hip to close drawers. When getting out of a chair, place your palms down instead of your knuckles down to lift your self up.

Hanging clothes in a closet may be best accomplished by using both arms and the palms of the hands to lift the clothes on and off the hanger bar.

Hot drinks can be drunk from a heat resistant mug held with both hands instead of gripping the handle of a cup.

Carry plates with both palms underneath the bottom of the plate.

Holding things close to your body will reduce the load which reduces stress on joints. When carrying a briefcase or purse use a shoulder strap instead of gripping the handles.

Hold grocery bags close to the body with both hands. Don’t grip the handles.


Try not to remain in one position over an extended period of time. This can lead to more stiffness.

The time to be very careful with this is when you’re driving or flying. Take frequent breaks and walk around and stretch.

When reading, consider using a pillow or book holder to support the book instead of using your hands to grasp.

If you’re sitting for any length of time avoid sitting so that your knees remain bent. Consider using something to support your legs so your knees can stretch out a bit.

Spend time stretching out your ankles by bending and straightening your ankles.

Maintain ideal body weight. Enough said.

Maintain good posture:

Sit properly:

Feet flat on the floor

Buttocks flat on the seat

Low back straight with exaggerated curve supported with a cushion

Keep shoulders relaxed

Rest forearms on the arms of a chair

Keep the knees slightly higher than the hips

Upper back straight

Use a firm chair with a lumbar supportMake sure the chair is at the proper level for your work

If you don’t have a lumbar roll, use a small pillow

Sit at the desk with your back straight. Do not slump. Some people find a drafting table with a slanted board to be comfortable to work with.

When standing at a counter, place one foot on a small stool. This helps avoid low back pain. Wear flat or low heeled shoes. These help maintain the normal low back curvature you need when standing.

A bar stool with a foot rest in the kitchen can be used if you’re working at a counter. This helps to alleviate fatigue.

Sit in chairs that are elevated. This can be accomplished by using pillows to sit on or chair leg extenders. It’s easier to stand up when you have a chair like this.

To get up from a seated position, shift your buttocks forward until you’re at the edge of your seat. Place one foot forward so that it is directly under the knee. Place the other foot behind the knee. Lean forward and push your self off with the palms of your hand. This will get you up easily.

Lift properly:

With heavy, objects, it’s probably a good idea to ask for assistance. Lift with your knees, not your low back. But even then, something heavy will strain the knees. Ask for help.

Get off the floor with less difficulty:

If you get caught lying on the floor, here’s a good way of getting up into a sitting position. Roll onto one side. Use the upper hand to push yourself up. Use the lower elbow to push yourself up more. Rise to a seated position and then support yourself in a seated position with both hands. Then shift sideways, get your knees under you until you’re on all fours. Crawl to a couch or heavy chair. Place your hands on the seat. While supporting yourself with your hands bring one knee up and place that foot flat on the floor. Push up with that leg while supporting the rest of your weight on the chair. When you have straightened your legs, pause just a moment so you don’t get too dizzy. Stand up straight.

Organize yourself:

Store frequently used items between waist and eye level. This minimizes the need for stooping or reaching up. Storing heavier items at this level reduces strain on the low back and shoulders.

Get rid of clutter since this will reduce the amount of work you have to do to find things.

If possible, buy multiples of commonly used items and put them where they are frequently used.

Try to organize with dividers, racks, pull out shelves.

Schedule frequent rest breaks throughout out the day.

Here's how to make your tasks easier:

If you sit to work, make sure you get up frequently to stretch and walk around. This will improve your energy and reduce fatigue.

Use wheeled devices to help move things more easily. A suitcase on wheels is an example. Trash cans are another. Utility carts may also be a device to consider.

Long-handled tools will help you manipulate objects with less stress on the joints. For instance, different types of levers or door handle extenders can be used to help open doors more easily.

Car door openers consisting of a long handled attachment are helpful . A special attachment for gas caps is also available. Key holder devices allow you to turn a key using your palm rather than your fingers.

A long handled bottle opener will help open bottles with less stress. Avoid using those can openers you have to twist to use. These place a tremendous amount of stress on the hands. Use an electric one instead. Different jar openers are also available to help reduce joint stress.

Open flip top cans with a knife. There are also special tools available for this task as well.

Use large handles to help maintain a more secure hold on objects when your grip strength is reduced, when your fingers don’t close fully, and to help lessen the tension required to hold onto objects.

Use electric devices when possible.

If you boil food, consider using a frying basket inside the pot to help you lift the food out and drain the water. Or consider using a ladle with a build up handle to scoop the food out instead.

There are many jar openers available that are either electric or work using friction. These may be fastened underneath the cabinet to allow easy access.

Try using some of the new lightweight types of cookware instead of cast iron.

Appliances that work with levers or by pushing buttons will make your life easier. Knobs that you need to twist place a lot of stress on the hands.

Store your canned goods with the labels facing forward. Line similar cans up behind one another so you can tell what’s in the back part of the shelf.

Store the most commonly used items between waist and eye level.

Plan your meals. If you can cook large batches and freeze them for the days ahead, it will help save you some labor. Slow cookers allow you to do this very easily.

Simple is better. Look for recipe books that will allow you to prepare meals in minutes.

Serve food in the containers they were cooked in. Consider storing them in the refrigerator in the same containers as well.

Use disposable dishes (paper) if possible. Use wet wash clothes or suction cups to stabilize mixing bowls.

Store pots and pans efficiently. It’s hard to reach underneath and pull out pots and pans. It’s much easier to hang them on hooks within easy reach.

Use sharp knives. These require less stress and strain on the hands.

Put your sugar and flour inside containers instead of leaving them in large bags that need to be lifted.

Use a coat hanger or other utensil to pull oven racks out to check a meal.

Use a hose attachment on your kitchen faucet so you can fill pots of water on the counter.

Use a mini food processor for chopping. Many appliances now have push buttons instead of knobs.

Simple things like having a potluck dinner or buffet instead of a sit down meal can be energy and joint saving.

Get more information about body mechanics and related issues as well as...

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• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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