The past year has seen many of us spending more time at home. For some of us that has been working from home and maybe spending longer periods of time sitting and using computers.
For others it may have been an opportunity to tackle DIY projects or get to grips with the gardening. Pretty much everything we do involves our hands, yet we rarely take the necessary proactive steps to look after them!
There are many things we can do to ensure we keep our hands in the best of health:
Be careful with repetitive or overuse activities.
When you stay in one position for a long time some muscles overwork which can pull the joint out of alignment. This can lead to pain and damage to the joint. No matter what your activity is involving your hands, try to factor in regular rests when performing repetitive activities.
Avoid activities that require prolonged gripping.
Tight small grips can place increased strain through the joints, especially in the hands, which will increase your pain and can further damage your joints. There are many ways to reduce small or prolonged gripping. e.g. use thick or padded pens for writing, rest books on a table or use a book rest and try easy grip cutlery and utensils.
Reduce the speed of repetitive movements in sports and other activities, like hammering, chopping up and preparing food etc. It’s important that any potentially dangerous tasks are approached with caution, not speed.
Prevention is better than cure.
Try to do exercises to strengthen hand muscles and promote flexibility of the wrists and fingers. Your hands are no different from any other part of the body that will benefit from warming up and stretching before use. Always wear protective gear, whether it’s putting on gloves for gardening or using protective pads and guards in sports to protect hand and wrists. Using the correct tools for the job will also prevent additional stress being inflicted on the hands, wrist and joints - whether this is sports equipment, DIY tools or even selecting the correct knife to prepare vegetables.
Balance of rest and activity.
It is important to balance your rest and activity to allow your joints time to rest and repair. It’s beneficial to be aware of the warning signs you may feel if your joints are becoming fatigued or strained - try to stop before you reach this point.
Warning signs may include permanent numbness, progressive pins and needles, weakness and muscle wasting or night pain – you may wish to seek medical advice if you experience any of these symptoms.
By following the above tips and becoming more aware of how to look after your hands will help to keep your hands in tip top condition.