Take a look outside and you’ll see the same thing over and over again - people walking with their hands in their pockets. Sure, you may only be outside for a few minutes or it may not seem like they’re totally necessary, but using gloves can do more than keep your hands toasty. They can help decrease your pain!
When we place our hands in our pockets it doesn’t allow our arms to swing when we walk. This is a very important part of the gait cycle for a few reasons; it helps us to utilize momentum and it allows our entire skeleton proper biomechanical activation and movement when walking. If we stop swinging our arms because our hands are in our pockets, holding something, or we have a purse under our shoulder, it eliminates this. This means our body has to work hard to move forward through space, the forces of walking cannot be easily transmitted throughout the body, and motion is essentially stopped in our lower spines and not able to move up through the spine and thorax as intended. This can cause malposition of our bones and joints, fatigue, and pain.
So when you’re walking, try to maintain your arm swing as much as possible. Wear gloves, use a cross-body purse or messenger bag, and stop carrying unnecessary items in your hands. Making this simple change can have a huge impact on your pain levels.
Written by Lesley Callaham, MPT, PRC January 9, 2018.