Before your trip to the shops, make a list of items you need. When possible, go to shops you’re familiar with, so you won’t spend extra steps walking around, looking for what you want. Importantly, take your time. When you’re in a rush, you’re more likely to put unnecessary strain on your joints, wear yourself out, or become overwhelmed, so budget an extra half-hour to get your shopping done. Also, take short breaks before and after you go to the store to put a warm or cold compress on troublesome joints. Although taking short breaks may seem like it will take you longer to complete a task, they can help conserve your energy, keep you from getting overly fatigued, and ultimately be easier for your joints.
Opt for paper bags over plastic so you can clutch heavy grocery bags with your arms instead of straining your hands. If you do need plastic, loop the armholes through your forearm – just don’t let them slide into your elbows, which aren’t as good at supporting weight. And minimize. Buy small packages that are easy to lift. Remember, this isn’t the only time you’ll have to pick that item up. You’ll have to lift it each time you use it at home too. Keeping your shopping trips short can also reduce joint strain. Go to the store more often for fewer items instead of putting it off until you have a long grocery list. And buy pre-prepared food items. You can cut down your cooking efforts by purchasing foods that are already washed and trimmed or chopped. Most stores offer fresh fruits and vegetables that are already peeled and diced into bite-size pieces. You can ask an employee at the butcher counter to slice or cube meats so they’re ready to cook when you are.
If possible, ask a friend or family member to accompany you, or ask a store employee to help with things that are bulky, heavy or hard to reach. Also, consider taking advantage of the home delivery services that many supermarkets and stores now offer – especially if you’re having a symptom flare. And choose wisely when buying your groceries. Healthy foods, such as fish, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables, are high in antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation, while processed foods may increase inflammation. By changing one or two shopping habits might make a noticeable difference in your levels of pain and stiffness after a trip to the shops.