10 tips to take care of your joints

Don’t wait until you have arthritis to take action. Take care of your joints with these top tips: 

1. Carry things correctly
When carrying objects, carry them close to your body. Bend your knees rather than your back when lifting things. 

Joint and back injuries are commonly caused by carrying heavy weights in an incorrect manner. Try not to carry more than 25kg.

2. Use your big joints
Use your big joints to carry objects. Don’t carry a heavy shopping bag with your fingertips – rather put it over your shoulder or forearm.  

Carry a heavy pot by putting your hands (while wearing oven gloves) under the handles, gripping the side of the pot, instead of the handles.

3. Avoid bending
Avoid bending unnecessarily by organising your house effectively. Store items you use often between waist and shoulder height wherever possible. It’s easy to hurt yourself when bending to reach things low down – especially if they’re heavy to pick up too.

4. Bend those knees
When you do have to bend down to pick up things (especially heavy ones), keep your back straight and bend your knees.

5. Push – don’t carry
Try to push heavy objects, instead of carrying them. Use a shopping trolley instead of a heavy basket. Get a suitcase that has wheels, so that you don't have to lug a heavy object around.

6. Take a rest
Break up activities that put strain on your joints with periods of rest. Repetitive stressful actions can easily injure your joints. Remember to take a break.

7. Get up and move
Don’t sit in one position for a long time. Get up from your desk or from the couch every 20 or 30 minutes and move around. Also remember to stop regularly when driving long distances and to stretch your legs.

8. Watch what you’re doing
Avoid staying in joint-straining positions for a long time. Be aware if you're doing something like leaning on your hands or elbows, which can put those joints under strain.

9. Use proper grips
Avoid tightly grasping small objects. Rather use a built-up grip around objects such as kitchen knives, toothbrushes and pens. This way, you use your whole hand to grasp the object, instead of only using two or three fingers.

10. Protect your knuckles
When you get up from a chair, lean on your palms of your hands or forearms rather than on your knuckles.

(Health24, December 2013) 
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