I Only Have Pies for You
As the holiday season rolls around, cooking and kitchen related injuries become more common and frequent. People often overdo cooking and dessert making as family comes to visit, which causes overuse and strains in fingers, hands and wrists. This month we are going to look at joint protection techniques and injury prevention strategies to help put the gobble in your wobble but not the slice in your dice (finger).
What is Joint Protection?
Joint protection techniques and ergonomics consider the person, environment, and activity. Joint protection aims to improve the functionality and joint. This includes assessing the force used during an activity, such as opening a new can of cranberry sauce, and preventing pain or strains from repetitive motion, such as stirring gravy or mashing potatoes. Other things to consider include the length of time for an activity or meal preparation, and body mechanics (Are your shoulders rounded forward? Hunched over a low countertop?).
You mean I’m mashing ‘taters wrong?!
Signs and symptoms of poor body mechanics and joint protection include:
- Joint aches and soreness
- Poor grip strength or fatigue with sustained gripping
- Inflamed fingers and hands
- Sore and tight neck and shoulders
Joint Protection and Ergonomics Tips and Tricks
- Look for kitchen utensils and cookware with comfortable, easy to grip handles, or even oversized handles
- Use plastic when appropriate to decrease weight and force required gripping
- Use an electric can opener and jar grip pad to decrease pressure on thumbs - be careful with those sharp can edges!
- Use scissors instead of your thumbs to open packages and bags
- Consider making large dishes in several smaller pots or dishes instead of having to lift one large, heavy dish
- Use a towel to set large pots on to slide them to their destination, as opposed to carrying them
- Keep knives separate from other dishes while cleaning up
- Be aware of your posture when cooking and lifting dishes. Keep shoulders back and squeeze shoulder blades together. If possible, cook and prepare ingredients at a higher surface or consider sitting at a table to allow for better posture and positioning
- If you are traveling for the holiday, attempt carrying items from underneath as opposed to sides or handles
- Never cut toward yourself when carving a turkey
- Keep knives sharp. This helps prevent forceful puncture injuries from a dull knife
- Conserve energy by taking rest breaks or even prepare some meals or sides ahead of time to thaw and cook on Turkey Day