Balancing Your Commute and Your Condition

Balancing Your Commute and Your Condition

For many, the commute to and from work can be frustrating. For those with a condition affecting their mobility, the mild irritation of a daily commute can be compounded by significant pain. Here, we take you through ways to help minimize discomfort as you travel.

Walking to Work

If distance allows, try walking to work instead of using a car or train. Sitting in traffic or standing on the train if seats are unavailable can cause stiff locked joints, especially if they haven’t had a chance to warm up before your commute. Walking is a great way to loosen up and lubricate the joints in your feet and legs. Even if it’s not possible to walk the entire way, perhaps try going one train or bus stop further than you usually do. If you are driving, park your car a couple of blocks away so that your joints are warmed up before you need to sit for an extended period of time.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

If you are including walking in your commute, ensure the joints in your feet are correctly supported by appropriate footwear. When selecting your shoes, check that the shape of the shoe matches the shape of your foot, paying particular attention to make sure there is enough width to the shoe so as not to aggravate pain caused by your condition. Avoid going up a size to achieve this as you will not have sufficient support. Instead look for brands that offer a specific range with additional width. Materials, such as leather, that stretch readily to accommodate your fit can be a better option than buying shoes made from synthetic materials that have no give.  Avoiding high heels can seem obvious, but completely flat shoes may not be ideal either. Shoes should at least have a raised insole in the center to ensure proper arch support. Getting an insole which can be transferred to different pairs of shoes can ensure you still have plenty of choice. With insoles, it is worth seeing a podiatrist and having a custom pair made as those sold as a one size fits all solution can exacerbate existing issues. Finally, ensure that the bottoms of the shoes are textured, giving a good grip to avoid slips and falls.

Driven by Success

When flaring or on cold mornings, those with arthritis can struggle with hands on tasks such as driving. The stiffness and pain in their hands and fingers can make it impossible to fully wrap them around and grip the steering wheel. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous. Something that many arthritis patients aren’t aware of is a steering wheel spinner which can be easily and cheaply retro fitted to a patient’s existing vehicle. This is a simple solution in which a large round grip that fits around the steering wheel allows for the car to be steered easily without having to grip the steering wheel tightly.

Discomfort while driving may also be helped by adding a portable massage pillow to your car seat. Many of these can be powered by the USB plug or the lighter port in your car. Depending on which option you choose, you can also have heat and infrared light to maximise the effectiveness of the pillow. If you face a particularly long commute, consider adding a coffee stop which will allow you to stretch and avoid stiffness at the end of the journey. There are a number of other ways in which your vehicle can be modified to better accommodate your condition. If funds allow for it, consider seeing a driver rehabilitation expert. They can advise on options such as a seat that turns out and lowers so getting in and out is much easier. Of course, if this is not an affordable option, try a cheap hack of putting a silky scarf on your seat thus making it easier to slide in and out.

Heat Therapy on the Go

Items like pressure activated gel hand warmers can help your hand joints stay warm and flexible for up to five hours. These are inexpensive and can be reused, a simple press of the internal button causes the gel to solidify and heat up, producing heat on demand. After each use, you simply boil the gel pack until the gel is a liquid, ready to be used again.

DO Try this at Home

2020 has been a challenging year in so many ways, but one aspect that can be viewed as a silver lining is the fact that companies are seeing that not only is it possible for their employees to work from home, but also that it can result in higher levels of productivity. Being at home with all the tricks and tools that make coping with your condition easier can mean you are more able to effectively carry out your duties. If you are able to do your job from bed you are less likely to have to take time off due to your illness and your finances and job security will be less of a worry for you going forward.

Many of these tips and tricks are affordable and easy to incorporate into your work commute. So, try them and let us and fellow patients know what has really worked for you!

Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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