Pain is a great motivator to change our behavior, but sometimes the changes are unhealthy ones. When cooking (whether as a hobby or as a necessary part of daily life) becomes physically challenging, it tends to change the way we eat. This can lead us to rely more heavily on processed and prepared foods and decrease the variety of foods that we eat. Ironically, this actually makes it harder for your body to heal from the illness or injury that is causing the pain in the first place.
Quite often, my clients tell me that their injury or illness has impacted their ability to cook. It could be a back or knee injury that has made standing at the stove or counter uncomfortable or a hand injury that makes using a knife difficult. Or it could be illness-related decreased endurance that only allows them to cook basic meals.
My kitchen ergonomics services work very similarly to my office ergonomics services. Just as I evaluate a client’s office workstation and suggest changes to the setup along with behavioral and postural changes to improve their comfort at work, I offer the same for clients in their home kitchens. The goal is to make cooking more comfortable through proper setup and improved posture while also making healthy food that helps the body to heal.
I use the same principles in the kitchen as in the office by assessing:
- body mechanics
- work behaviors
- the physical environment
- whether correctly fitting equipment is being used (and whether the existing equipment is being used correctly)
Based on this assessment, I make recommendations with a focus on neutral postures, energy conservation, joint protection, body mechanics, and correct use of equipment.
Examples of diagnoses or injuries where a client would benefit from this service include:
- Chronic back pain that makes sustained standing and/or squatting and bending difficult
- Acute or chronic upper extremity injuries that cause weakness, reduced sensation, or pain that decreases hand use tolerance
- Inflammatory conditions that cause pain with repetitive movements of the upper or lower body
How it works:
Just as with office ergonomics, the most cost-effective and efficient method is for me to work with you in your own environment. Working with you in your kitchen allows me to assess what aspects of the environment can be modified to better fit you and which of your postures and behaviors can be changed to better support pain-free movement. It also lets you apply my recommendations specifically to your own environment.
Prior to our first meeting, I will email you some questions to learn more about your injury/illness and some of your specific concerns and questions related to cooking. During the initial evaluation, I will observe you in your kitchen performing some basic cooking tasks, tailoring it to your specific issues and questions. Based on my assessment, we will discuss recommended changes and develop a plan together. I will have you practice better techniques for those tasks, possibly trying a different piece of equipment to compare your tolerance for the task.
For clients who are also interested in learning about anti-inflammatory and healing foods, we can work together on that through my Lifestyle OT and/or Health Coaching services or I can recommend one of my Food for Life plant-based nutrition classes.