How To Make Cooking Just a Little Bit Easier On Your Wrists

If long bouts in the kitchen leave you a little sore, you're far from alone.

Something that is not talked about often enough in the culinary community is, you guessed it, carpal tunnel. I am a very ripe 27 year old/avid cook, and I'd like to have a discussion about this syndrome of the hand and arm, that is caused by excessive usage. Cooking, like most any other chore, is a physical activity, which means it's always a good idea to follow measures that will protect your body while you're doing it. Athletes need to take care of their bodies, and so do cooks!

One of my priorities as a person who cooks frequently is to be as gentle and forgiving to my wrists (a body part that's most prone to wear and tear in the kitchen) as possible — because I only have two, and I'm banking on them lasting me a long while. I am, of course, not a doctor. But I am a home cook who makes a genuine effort to go easy on my wrists whenever I possibly can...because I know how they feel when I overdo it, and frankly, it's not great. Here are the ways I've found to help minimize the load you're putting on your wrists.

Let a Machine Do It

It is the 21st century, which means that the modern day kitchen is equipped with some pretty high-tech stuff. Don't shy away from using these appliances. Many home cooks feel that doing certain tasks "by hand" makes them better and more "cheffy." In certain instances, that's true. For example, I'm relying on my two bare hands to roll out pastry dough, carve meat, or peel veggies.

However, there are plenty of tasks that you don't need to be doing by hand. Make your pasta dough in a stand mixer — it tastes exactly the same whether you make a well of flour on your counter and whisk in eggs versus if you let a paddle attachment do the work for you. Same thing for pie dough — I am giving you full permission to pulse that up in your food processor. And while we're here, you better believe that you should let the dough hook on your stand mixer knead virtually any dough that requires you to work it. You are not any less of a cook when you put your high-speed machines to use, okay?

Make salad dressings and sauces in a food processor or blender. Swallow your pride and whip your cream in a sealed Mason jar or in a stand mixer. Have a lot of veggies to prep? Chop up your next mirepoix in a mini food processor. Food processors, blenders, and stand mixers exist to make your life in the kitchen easier, so don't be afraid to use them.

Embrace Other Handy Kitchen Tools

Squeezing citrus? Use a reamer or juicer, and don't put your wrists through that torture. Have a bunch of garlic cloves to get through? Use a press. Instead of constantly cranking your can opener, invest in an electric one that passes through the top of your can without you even lifting a finger. Need thin slices? A mandolin is going to be much easier and much more efficient than hand chopping (just make sure that you're wearing a protective glove).

Use Sharp Knives

Even if you're using electric machines and convenient tools, there's still no way around the fact that you're going to need to hand-chop some things every now and again. When it comes time, you definitely want a sturdy knife with a sharp bladethat makes your life easier, instead of harder. Dull blades are not only more accident prone, but they also can create bad habits. You shouldn't need to be sawing through an ingredient or putting your full body weight behind the knife to get the blade through whatever it is that you're cutting into. If that's the case, it's time to invest in a better knife.

Keep Your Work Station Elevated

If you find yourself needing to hunch over to reach your cutting board, you're creating more strain and extension on your arms and wrist every time you chop something. If your workstation is uncomfortably low, consider a thicker cutting board or stacking a few boards together (you can secure them with a damp paper towel between each board).

Listen to Your Body

After long bouts in the kitchen, it's important to listen to your body. If your wrists feel sore or tingly, it's probably best to take a break, ice your wrist, and maybe look for a carpal tunnel-friendly brace. There's no shame in your self-care game. If you wanna be slicing and dicing for years to come, this is the only way to do it.

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