Modifying Activities for Osteoarthritis

Overview

If your joints hurt when you do an activity, you can do a number of things to help yourself.

  • Use the largest joints or strongest muscles to do things.
    • When you lift a heavy object off the floor, use your hip and knee muscles, not your back.
    • When you carry a bag of groceries, use the palm of your hand or your forearm instead of grasping it with your fingers.
    • Push doors open with your hip or shoulder instead of your hand or arm.
  • Break bigger tasks into several smaller tasks.

    Rest between tasks.

  • Use electric tools.

    Electric tools such as can openers, blenders, power tools, and sewing machines can make it easier to open cans, mix things, do home repairs, or sew.

  • Try not to stand for a long period of time.

    And try not to kneel or squat.

    Sit or take regular breaks when doing tasks that take a long time.

  • Use higher chairs or seat cushions.

    Avoid sitting in chairs that are very low.

  • Go a shorter distance when you walk, jog, swim, or do another activity.
  • Break up an exercise or activity.

    For example, you might take two or three short walks in a day rather than one long walk. Or do a shorter workout, then rest and do a little more later.

  • Make an activity less intense.

    Decrease your speed when you jog, walk, run, or swim. If you lift weights, don't lift as much weight.

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