Joint protection in Rheumatoid Arthritis is very important to help prevent damage, preserve joint function and to manage day to day pain. RA can cause permanent damage and the affected joints cannot tolerate the pushing, pulling and stress that a healthy joint can.
It's important to move your joints through full range of motion exercises each day but use caution and do not move past the point of a tolerable stretch. Move slowly and methodically as you go through the range of motion exercises. Listen to your body. Some days you will have a greater range of motion in your joints than other days.
When using your hands, don't use movements that push your fingers toward the pinkie finger. Instead, push your hands in the other direction. When wiping a counter, for example, make a point of wiping in the direction with the little finger leading, this will push your fingers toward the thumb instead of toward the pinkie finger. Also, grip the sponge or rag losely and not with a tight grip.
Writing with a small pen or pencil for prolonged periods places stress on the finger joints. Use a fat pen or build up your pen with foam. Also, look for gel ink or other pens that have easy ink flow and require less pressure.
If you are opening a package, don't try to pull it open with your fingers, use scissors, a knife or other utensil to prevent undue stress on your joints.
Something as simple as turning a key can add to joint damage. Use a built up key or a key turner when opening locks, starting your car or locking doors.
Also avoid making tight fists. Use ergonomic handled tools and kitchen tools. Good Grips makes a line of ergonomic grips to help prevent damage to the hands. You can also use foam to build up handles on kitchen tools, yard tools, or home tools.
It's also important to use fat handled mugs or cups instead of the dainty cups with a small handle.
It's also important to carry things like laundry baskets with open hands. Hold books, plates, bowls, etc with a flat palm. When reading, if you are going to read for a prolonged period, use a book holder or rest your book on a pillow as you read.
You can also download a PDF file Here from Kleinert Institute that includes many ideas for joint protection.
1) Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain: Tips for protecting your joints – Mayo Clinic
2) Klienert Institiute Joint Protection Program Handbook