A wrist injury is a common experience that we all eventually encounter, but in that moment we discover a universal truth, it’s tough to be one-handed. When you have to keep your wrist (hand and entire arm) out of activities, it can really throw a wrench in your daily routine.
Living with a healing wrist injury, a broken arm, or an ongoing wrist condition can be uniquely challenging. The things you learn to do with your elbows alone could fill a book, and many of you readers already know what we’re talking about. Whether this is your first wrist injury or you’re just looking for tips to do this one right, we’re here to share a few of the cleverer life-hacks for living with just one wrist for a few weeks.
1. Everything is Opposite With Your Non-Dominant Hand
The first and most formidable challenge is reserved for those who injure their dominant hand. Righties with damaged right wrists or lefties with left injuries have to learn to do everything with the other hand. Here’s the trick: you’re also doing it backward.
Switching to your non-dominant hand for everything from brushing your teeth to opening jam jars requires you to reverse your usual direction. When you’re frustrated or in a hurry, this can be pretty hard to remember. So keep it in your mind: do everything backward and using your off-hand won’t be as offputting.
2. Wear Your Wrist Brace or Cast
Whether you have a wrist brace or a plaster cast, wear whatever the doctor tells you. Wrists are delicate constructions of small bones and tendones. When your wrist or surrounding arm are injured, you need the extra support and even movement restriction to ensure that you heal properly.
If you have a brace, only take it off the prescribed amount of time or aptly switch between braces based on your activities. With a brace, you can air out the wrist if you are careful and hold still while doing so.
If you have a cast, it is vital to treat the cast with respect and follow the doctor’s instructions. Don’t work too hard to scratch, don’t get it wet, and continue to rest the arm even though it is now in a cast. And, of course, don’t try to take off the cast.
3. Build Your One-Arm Wardrobe
When you can’t use one hand, or even an entire arm, getting dressed becomes a challenge. Not only are you pulling on pants and socks with one hand, you are also worrying about sleeves. In general, it’s best to build yourself an easy-to-wear set of outfits for the time when your wrist is healing.
Prioritize shirts that have minimal or no sleeves, and wide armholes so that your wrist brace or cast doesn’t snag. Pick clothes that can be pulled on with one hand but are still modest and flattering when worn. Find a jacket that drapes comfortably over one arm or has wide sleeves to carefully fit your brace or cast through. This is a good time for ponchos and shawls that don’t require fasteners or sleeves.
4. Keep a Sling Handy
Even if you don’t need to immobilize your arm, a sling comes in handy. The ability to “dock” your wrist in a safe nearby location can help you keep it out of the way and remember not to use it. When you’re training yourself to do two-handed tasks with one hand or to switch to your off-hand, having a sling can keep your injured hand from jumping into the action unbidden.
So keep a sling around, they’re easy to buy at the pharmacy and some grocery stores. You can buy them online in any color, fabric, and in many designs. Also, you can always lend the sling you get today to your next friend with a wrist or arm injury.
Know How to Craft a Makeshift Sling
That said, you may find yourself in need of a sling without one handy. That’s alright, many cloth items can be made into a makeshift sling. If you have an elastic bandage, wrap it like a sling for a quick support. Scarfs make great slings, as to long-sleeve shirts and sweaters. Even a pair of pants can technically be tied into a quick sling for a few minutes.
5. Hand-Pump Soap and Shampoo Tops
Bathing is a tricky task when you’re down one hand. Getting shampoo and soap out of the bottle is among the biggest challenges without both hands available. Unless, of course, you have soap with hand-pump tops.
Hand pumps make it possible to access your soap one-handed and you can work out the rest from there. Here’s something not everyone knows: you can buy pumps in standard bottle sizes so you don’t even need to purchase new pump soap bottles. Just stock up on attachable hand pumps and stick with your favorite bottles.
6. Create Icy Armrests and Wristbands
Icing throughout the day for weeks can get pretty tedious. You don’t want to spend all day sitting with your wrist wrapped in bags or packs of ice. Icing is not a fun primary activity. This leads to our many creative efforts to make icing into something you can do passively.
By far, the most successful innovation has been the icy armrest. Create a cushion with a towel-wrapped bag of ice and lay your wrist down onto the bag. If the ice, preferably small pieces or crushed, cradles your wrist, then you’re in good shape. The armrest configuration makes it much easier to distract yourself and get work done while also icing your wrist.
If you’re more active, you may also be able to make a mobile icing solution. With the right wrist brace, you can secure ice packs or heating pads to your wrists while you’re on the go.
7. Rubber Grip Pads to Open Jars and Bottles
Last but not least, get yourself some of those rubber or silicone grip pads used for opening jars. Have more than one, when you don’t have two hands to use in the kitchen, you can use all the grip with your good hand that you can get. For example, if you need to open a new jar of jam or sauce, place one of the grip pads on the counter. Then place the jar on the grip pad and twist the lid with another grip pad in your hand.
This will help the jar to resist the twist and open more readily. Grip pads can help with all sorts of things where the grip of one hand isn’t quite enough.
Navigating your daily life with one hand, especially without your dominant hand, is always a challenge. Here at Mueller Sports Medicine, we want to help you regain the use of your injured wrist as quickly as possible. That’s why we’ve crafted a variety of wrist, elbow, and shoulder braces to accommodate your recovery needs. Browse our selection of such today!
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.