In good hands: In post-pandemic world, why it’s necessary to take care of your hands

While hand hygiene has been one of the most effective ways to combat Covid, taking extra care of your hands that perform many jobs is also vital

Washing hands
Ease of use is the top growing claim in hand sanitiser launches in India which has significantly grown from 3.7% to 39% between October 2018 and September 2021, according to Mintel Global New Products Database

Washing hands is easy, and it has proved to be one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Hand hygiene can help stop germs from spreading from one person to another and in our communities—including workplaces, homes, and educational institutions.

Hand sanitisation is still believed to be the easiest way to protect against Covid-19. As per the ‘Attitudes to Hygiene and Sanitation in India Report’ released by market intelligence agency Mintel earlier this year, two in five (41%) Indians strongly agree that using hand sanitisers regularly is still the best hygiene practice, even after the pandemic subsides. Moreover, the report shows that consumers want sanitisers that are suitable for sensitive skin (50%), have natural ingredients (48%), and smell like they contain high-quality scents (46%).

Ease of use is the top growing claim in hand sanitiser launches in India which has significantly grown from 3.7% to 39% between October 2018 and September 2021, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

The report is in sharp contrast to a finding by the US-based commercial plumbing fixtures giant Bradley Corporation that says hand hygiene is beginning to slow down—a development that saw a sharp rise during the first lockdown in 2020. It states that hand-washing frequency decreased by 25% among adults when most Americans were washing hands an average of 10.5 times per day. This year, the number dropped by one-fourth to 7.8 times per day.

India, on the other hand, has a reason to maintain good hand hygiene. It is the social pressure that drives Indian consumers’ hygiene habits. The Mintel report states that maintaining good hygiene has been heavily promoted as the best measure consumers can take to combat the spread of Covid-19. As a result, many consumers’ hygiene habits are now being driven by social pressure.

A majority of Indian consumers (84%) agree that personal hygiene, such as sanitising hands and wearing masks, is a social, rather than individual, responsibility. “For consumers, maintaining a good social image drives the use of more cleaning and personal hygiene products. It is imperative for brands to provide consumers with a sense of pride through brand and product ownership and help them appear at the top of their hygiene game by offering a sense of discernment through innovative features and sleek packaging. Brands can focus on initiatives that help consumers display their cleaning efforts to their peers in order to embed behaviours and boost engagement with the category,” says Triveni Kulkarni, senior beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel.

While hand hygiene proved to be one of the most important reasons to remain sanitised during the pandemic, taking extra care of our hands that perform many jobs is also vital. Since all the domestic chores and technology scores are performed manually, experts advise us to take best care of hands, especially sore hands, wrist pain and treat injuries for better hand care.

“Kara (hasta) abhyanga that refers to massaging the hands to relax muscles and improve the range of movement is a soothing treatment. The lower arms are massaged, and special attention is paid to marma (energy points) of the hands to rebalance the body. Massaging the hands for 45 minutes can help reduce vata (the air dosha and governs movement including breathing and circulation) and also improve any issues with the wrist and elbow,” says yogini and wellness entrepreneur Radhika Iyer.

As technology, especially phones and computers, became an integral part of our lives during the pandemic, so did the accompanying ailments. Vaibhav Bagaria, director, orthopaedic, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital Mumbai, says, “Wrist pain and sore hands are common complaints. Some simple yet effective measures to prevent these can include setting up a comfortable workstation.”

Closeup woman holding her wrist pain from using computer. Office syndrome hand pain by occupational disease.

“A common cause of soreness is tendonitis. Ensuring proper positioning of keyboard and mouse is important. One should reduce unnecessary strain in fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders, keeping them in as neutral and relaxing a position as possible. Another common condition involves pain radiating along the thumb originally called tenosynovitis is now famously nicknamed ‘Whatsappitis’ owing to its common occurrence in frequent mobile users. Steps to mitigate this include use of mobile stands and use of Bluetooth earphones,” Bagaria adds.

The pandemic had also confined most people to household tasks or work from home. As a result, it has led to a rise in complaints of aches and sores in hands, wrists, and arms. “Those working from home on laptops and typing on their desktops usually suffer from strain in the wrist and neck due to poor posture and long working hours,” says Amite Pankaj Aggarwal, director and head of department, joint replacement, arthroscopy and orthopedics, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.
Aggarwal suggests giving rest to the affected area and using a splint or bracing for the wrist to provide it with support. “Use of vibrational devices to soothe the affected area and gentle stretching exercises for the fingers, hands and wrists or applying a heating pad on the affected area can soothe aches and sores,” he adds.

YOGA FOR YOUR HANDS

WRIST-TURN POSE
This pose is the kingpin stretch for the wrists and should be considered as an everyday move

Steps
– Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your wrist joint is directly under your shoulder joint
– Stretch one wrist at a time. Turn the right wrist to the right, moving a little more each time until one day, your fingers are pointed toward your body
– Inhale, push the floor away, lengthen the neck out of
your shoulders and hold for
30 seconds. Slowly come out of it and switch sides
– Do this move two times
on each side

WRIST-OPENER POSE
All the other moves focus on a flexing stretch of the wrist joint —this move is unique because you will finally feel an amazing extension stretch

Steps
– Start on your hands and knees. Bring your left wrist under your shoulders, palm facing up. Spread your fingers evenly
– Put your right hand on top of your left wrist to gently press down on the left hand
– Lean into the stretch until you reach your limit, then hold and breathe for 30 seconds to one minute
– To come out of it, lean away from the stretch and slowly release your left wrist. Repeat the move on your right hand

JOINT-OPENER POSE
To open a joint, stretch surrounding joints and muscles at the same time

Steps
– Sit up straight on the floor. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Play around with the direction the fingers point according to where you feel the best stretch
– Lean back on hands, with your palms flat and fingers spread evenly
– Inhale, lengthen your spine and push the floor away. Then exhale, open your chest and heart forward, while squeezing the shoulder blades together behind you
– Do this move for 1 minute

INVERTED TABLE pose
This pose takes the reclining seated mountain to the next level

Steps
– Start sitting and place your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers spread and palms flat
– Keep your knees bent and feet flat. Distribute your weight evenly between your feet and hands
– Inhale and lift your hips off the floor, aiming to eventually lift them as high as your knees. Exhale, then bring the lower back down
– Do this for 1-3 minutes

DOWNWARD-FACING DOG pose
With this pose, you get a less direct, gently-angled stretch on the wrist joint while strengthening all the shoulder and arm muscles

Steps
– Set your hands shoulder-width apart, with palms flat and fingers spread out evenly
– Your feet should be approximately hip-width apart. Do this pose with bent knees
– Inhale and push the floor away, then exhale and drop your head down towards the mat. Breathe and hold this pose for 30 secs to 1 min

HAND CARE: DOs & DON’Ts

– Avoid repetitive stress injuries. Spending too much time on your devices without taking breaks and ignoring early signs of injury can be particularly harmful

– Tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones are prone to overuse fatigue. Take frequent breaks between work, maintain good posture

– Establish a stretching and desk exercise routine. For hands and wrists, simple stretches like using a soft exercise ball and rotating wrists in clockwise and anticlockwise direction will help maintain the flexibility, reduce muscle fatigue

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