Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

January 2011 Wellness Tip

Easy on the Joints

Whether you are among the 46 million Americans who have some form of arthritis or you are noticing a few more aches and pains these days, adopting healthy habits in the way you work, move, play and live can help prevent injury and support joint health to improve your quality of life.

Below is a 30-day list from Highmark's Healthy Highlights e-newsletter of one thing you can do each day to lower your risk for injury or better manage arthritis:

1. Stay flexible and maintain range of motion in your joints.  Stretch for 10 minutes in the morning and before bed.

2. Practice safe pick‐ups. Bend your legs instead of your back when picking up objects.

3. Move more and stress less to lower pain.  Take a walk during lunch and breaks to lower stress levels.

4. Use gadgets that make everyday tasks easier, like jar openers, soft grips, felt tip pens and electric toothbrushes.

5. Find backup support. When sitting, add a small towel roll behind your lower back for extra support.

6. Relax in warmth to soothe aches and pains.Take a warm bath to relieve joint pain.

7. Fidget.  When sitting for long periods of time, stretch or change the position of your legs.

8. Practice good posture while sitting and standing for efficient use of your muscles and joints.

9. Try something new. Take a Tai Chi class or other exercise class focused on gentle movement.

10. Lose five.  If you carry extra weight, work on losing just five pounds to help lighten your load. 

11. Sit up and look straight ahead.  While sitting at your computer, make sure your screen is at eye level.

12. Talk in comfort.  Invest in a headphone set if your job requires you to be on the phone often.

13. Use floor mats (at  work or home) to reduce fatigue if you stand for long periods on hard surfaces.

14. Sleep in comfort.  Place a pillow between your knees to relieve back pain during sleep.

15. Get a massage. Schedule a massage to loosen tight muscles.

16. Spread cleaning chores throughout the week. You don’t have to do it all at once!

17. Stretch your body by getting up out of your chair often and stretching your arms, back, legs and shoulders. 

18. Don’t sit still—practice “dynamic sitting.” Alternate between sitting and standing. 

19. Avoid awkward positions.  Don’t twist when reaching, lean to pick things up or contort your body.

20. Take 10‐ to 15‐second breaks frequently throughout a task. Look away from the computer monitor, stand up, stretch.

21. Keep your feet on the floor. If your feet do not touch the floor while sitting, use a footstool.

22. Make it accessible.  Organize to keep frequently used objects close to avoid excessive extended reaching. 

23. Try not to slouch. Don’t twist or place your body in an awkward or unnatural position even when relaxing.

24. Stand as close to your task as possible. Reaching can strain the shoulders, back and neck.

25. Pack it light and wear it right. Carry only what’s necessary in your backpack, messenger bag and briefcase.

26. Go easy on your knees. Rather than kneeling, sit on a low stool or bucket to avoid pressure on the knees.

27. Be kind to your feet and find the right shoe. Wear low heel or wedge shoes no higher than one inch.

28. Look for pillows designed especially for your preferred sleep position to provide neck and back support. 

29. Lift safely. Get close to the load, maintain your curves, tighten your ab muscles, lift with your legs and pivot, don't twist.

30. Log on to learn more. Visit the Arthritis Foundation web site at www.arthritis.org.