In honor of Occupational Therapy month (well last month, April) and watching my sister present on her capstone research project last week at my alma mater, Quinnipiac University, it got me thinking back to my research project.
Nine years ago I was in her shoes, presenting on “What are the cooking difficulties for those with Arthritis” (I guess I was destined to have a food blog). I surveyed older adults to find out what cooking task was the most difficult. It’s no surprise that cutting food was the number 1 most difficult task to perform. Holding a knife and pushing down applies a lot of pressure to the small joints in our hands. Over time, repetitive movement and poor wrist/hand positioning can cause injury to our hands. Other painful tasks include opening a tight jar or small lids off Tupperware containers. But luckily for us, there are plenty of user friendly cooking appliances/tools.
You don’t have to have arthritis to start thinking about using more user-friendly kitchen items. Joint protection and proper body mechanics are important to start NOW in order to prevent injuries down the road. One product line I recommend to patients and use myself is 0X0, found at numerous locations like Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Homegoods, and Amazon. They were founded on the philosophy of universal design, which means their products can be used by everyone – young and old, male and female, lefties and righties. They have over 1,000+ products for all rooms of your house.
Adaptive Cooking Utensils
I’ve included some of my favorite products below. The first is the 0X0 Good Grip POP container. These have a large push button for easy open and closing. No more putting stress on the tiny joints in your fingers; instead, use your palm to open and close these containers. They come in every size you need and have an airtight seal.
OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup. It has an inverted angle and is made of plastic, which is lightweight compared to the glass many are made of. When pouring liquid into the measuring cup, there is no need to bend over to see how much you poured or lift it up to eye level.
All of their utensils have built up soft grip handles, which allow you to put less stress on those tiny finger joints. One of their best products is their OXO Good Grip Serrated Rocker Knife. Not only does it have the soft handle, but it allows someone with poor hand/arm strength to cut their food. Instead of the traditional cutting back and forth, you simple “rock” the knife over the food to cut. Below are some tips to be more comfortable and pain-free in the kitchen.
- Use larger or stronger joints to avoid stress.
- Avoid a tight grasp.
- Use built-up handles on pots and utensils.
Proper Body Mechanics
- When standing, imagine that a straight line connects your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and heels. Keep your knees slightly bent.
- While sitting, keep hips, knees, and ankles at 90 degrees. Keep shoulders back. Rest feet comfortably on the floor. If necessary, use a foot rest.
- If lifting a heavy pot or pan, use your strongest joints and muscles. Hold items close to your body. If available use a cart to transport items.
- Avoid activities that require a tight grip such as opening jars/cans.
- Use electric appliances. These place less stress on your joints.
- Use disposable baking pans or foil to make clean up easier.
- When cooking a large meal, try to prepare some a day ahead if possible.
- A crockpot is an easy way to prepare a great meal. I love this programable one that can be set to turn off when the food is done cooking.
- Stretch before cooking.
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