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Joint Health

These 6 Easy Hacks Will Make Your Home (and Your Chores) Arthritis-Friendly


We spend a whopping 62 percent of our time at home these days. While it may seem like the extra indoor time would help ease arthritis pain, different triggers around the house can exacerbate them. Even just standing for a while on a hard tile floor can cause a flare up! So, we asked ergonomics experts how to make our most-used rooms pain-free zones.

In your kitchen, pad the floor.

Feel arthritis pain in your legs or back after cooking? An “anti-fatigue” mat can help! It prevents aches by cushioning the joints in your ankles, knees, and hips. It also improves circulation in your legs. In fact, workers who stood on anti-fatigue mats experienced 50 percent less soreness than those who stood on hard surfaces every day, per a recent study. One option we like: KMAT Cushioned Anti-Fatigue Mat (Buy from Amazon, $29.99).

Also smart: Stow heavier cooking items in cabinets between your shoulders and hips, advises joint expert Kevin Lees, DC. “This reduces how much you have to reach up or bend down, helping you maintain your center of balance, which puts less stress on joints.”

In your bathroom, swap out knobs.

The round knobs on your bathroom door and sink are hard on your hands, says ergonomics expert Brett Edmunds. “They force you to make a twisting motion, which puts a lot of strain on joints.” The solution? Swap out round knobs for levers — the up and down motion uses your body weight, putting much less pressure on joints.

Also smart: To ward off falls, consider a pretty grab bar. “These aren’t your grandmother’s grab bars,” says occupational therapist Lynda Shrager. “They come in stylish designs, and some are even camouflaged as towel bars.” Her picks: Grabcessories Grab Bar and Toilet Paper Holder (Buy at Home Depot, $62.99) or Delta Décor Assist Towel Bar With Assist Bar (Buy from Delta, $45).

In your home office, make these tweaks.

To create a comfortable setup for your computer — no matter where in the house you set up shop — focus on three key factors: Your feet should be flat on the floor, knees a few inches lower than hips, and your computer at eye level. The advice comes from ergonomics expert Turner Osler, MD, emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Vermont. If you need to make adjustments, simply use books to lift your computer, table or chair until you’ve achieved the ideal height.

Also smart: Wrists should form a straight line with your forearms, says pain expert Jacob Hascalovici, MD, for pain-free typing. For instant support, roll a hand towel lengthwise and place it in front of your keyboard.

To make shoveling easier, use nonstick spray.

Before shoveling snow, coat your shovel with nonstick cooking spray. The slick surface ensures snow slides right off — saving your back from painful twisting — and helps you remove twice as much snow in half the time.

To clean off your car, grab the broom.

Reaching the roof of your car to push off the snow can strain your neck and shoulders. The solution: Grab a push broom. Its long handle makes it easy to reach the roof, and the bristles keep delicate paint jobs pristine.

To avoid falling on ice, do the penguin walk.

Penguins are pros at walking on ice, and we can all learn from their measured gait. If you come across a patch of ice, keep your legs wide — even with your shoulders — and take short steps forward. This “penguin shuffle” increases your center of gravity, slashing your risk of a falling by more than half.

Looking for other tips to reduce arthritis pain (and pain in general)? Check out these two tips for easing symptoms and this simple daily exercise for eliminating stiffness over time.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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