Non-Dominant Explorations

Taking Care of Your 80 y/o self

How well do you use your non-dominant hand & arm?

Stretch your brain power and perceptions. Apply toothpaste with your other hand. Brush your teeth with your other (non-dominant) hand.

Practice with balled up pieces of paper & a garbage can, or dirty laundry & a bin. Throw a sponge, washcloth, or something into the sink or bathtub if that is a better place for you to start. Whatever works for you.

Some fun and very useful things to explore:

Throw a ball or toy to a dog using the non-dominant side of your body. For optimal body mechanics get your other foot forward (not the one you’re used to), and be in a good stance. For shoulder protection use your legs and core/trunk to power your throw. Really get your body’s wind-up involved, which will move & power your arm and lastly your hand. Pay attention all the way through your follow-through.

Next time you’re filling a vitamin or pill container explore using your other fingers. Pair other fingers with your thumb, not just your index finger. Explore using your non-dominant hand.

If there are no safety consequences, explore using your non-dominant hand & side of your body for cooking tasks such as stirring or adding ingredients. Make and eat your breakfast using the other side of your body. I don’t recommend pouring hot water, dealing with hot oil, or other health & safety hazards.Changing things up helps our brains, vision, and coordination. There are plenty of research summaries and resources about brain plasticity and other topics if you want to read more.

I recommend exploring doing things in a different way for the added benefit of if/when something happens to your dominant side you’ll be more aware of what’s ahead. You will have had some practice and hopefully that will help lessen your frustration. There is often “enough” frustration & pain with whatever situation put you in need of using your non-dominant hand.

What do I mean? Sprains, fractures, wounds, stroke, carrying something in that hand and can’t switch it. Maybe someone dear needs a hug but one arm and hand are full.

Some places tether a computer mouse or trackball so it can only be used with a right hand. What if you have an amputation? Many farmers, machinery workers, and other people have missing digits or parts of arms.

It may take months to feel proficient using a mousepad/mouse/trackball with your non-dominant hand & upper limb but there are many benefits for long-term health. It can also help with over-use syndromes.

Perhaps notice what standardized things occur due to right handedness as ‘the normal’ in our society and thus is catered to. Some examples: opening doors to buildings, scissors, car controls and more. Ever wonder what other “normals” are catered to, to the detriment of others?