Awkward Moments Go Beyond AnnoyingIt is tough for people with arthritis to accept that a simple gesture like a handshake can be such a problem. It's difficult for those without arthritis to understand, too -- and there's no time to explain when you're in the moment. Before you can utter a single word, someone has grabbed your hand unknowingly.
I realize the problem of handshaking seems like a small deal compared to all the big deals that challenge people with arthritis. Some may even consider it a mere annoyance. But ask any person who lives with arthritis and he or she will tell you that all those annoyances add up. For some, handshaking is at the top of their list of arthritis pet peeves.
We asked people with arthritis how they handle the problem of shaking hands, and we got some very forthright, serious responses. Are you surprised to find out that people have thought this through? Solutions include: grabbing the other person's wrist above the hand; offering only a few fingers rather than an outstretched hand; keeping a drink in your hand when attending a social gathering; and tucking your hands in your pockets. The fist bump got a mention, too.
Fist Bump Becoming Popular SolutionThe origin of the fist bump has been credited to athletes, specifically NBA players in the 1970s. Others give credit for the maneuver to cartoon characters (Wonder Twins) or gloved boxers decades ago. While the origin may be a matter of dispute, there is no denying that, more recently, the fist bump regained popularity with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Howie Mandel and Michelle and President Barack Obama, among others. Yes, even the Obamas have fist-bumped -- most notably when he accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. The Washington Post dubbed that famous gesture "the fist bump heard 'round the world." Time Magazine did a feature on it -- picture and all.
The fist bump may be exactly what some people with arthritis have been waiting for to get them past the danger of a painful handshake -- or perhaps, even worse, a high-five. Goes without saying, you will have to be able to make a fist or something resembling a closed fist. By extending your closed fist, the other person will respond in kind, ready to lightly tap against yours. You may even have enough time to speak the words -- GENTLE PLEASE! Not only will you have solved the problem of shaking hands with arthritis, you will look cool while doing it.