The Christmas holiday period should be a time for enjoying ourselves with friends and family, over indulging and celebrating. However for some, the dramatic change in our daily routine, going from rushing to get decorations up and presents bought and wrapped to, for most, a week spent being overly sedentary can be the cause of unexpected back and neck pain.
Whilst we cant help decide the winner of charades or take the calories out of your trifle. Here are 8 tips to keep you happy, healthy and pain free over the Christmas period.
1. Don’t shop to you literally drop!
Being that little bit more organised will help, plan your shopping trip and if time allows take several trips to get everything you need. This will prevent you from spending hours on your feet carrying heavy bags. Finally if circumstances allow park as close to the shops as you possibly can, ask for help from family and if not possible there is always the shop assistant!!
If you are having a marathon shopping day, try to take regular breaks sit down, stretch and alternate carrying arms to spread the load and distribute the weight evenly. Or fit in a trip back to the car to get rid of some bags! It will also add to the steps on your fitbit 😉 everyone has one now, right? If not, Santa is coming so be good 🙂
2. Present wrappers back!
We’ve all experienced this at some point be it birthdays, Christmas or that special occasion. Christmas time however generally requires more wrapping time.
Therefore, if possible avoid wrapping on the floor. It permits bad posture and leaves us flexed forward for long periods of time subjecting the spine to loads it is not used too. Sitting or standing at a table reduces the need to subject ourselves to bad positions.
Use a table to write your Christmas cards and tags! You wouldn’t carry out such tasks at work on the floor, but for some reason we all have done it!
As is commonly advised in this day and age, take regular breaks get up walk around and have a stretch every 15 – 30 minutes.
Ask a family member to help. A memory of mum wrapping till 2am Christmas eve inspired me to realise – we could have made this a fun task for all the family.
3. Tree’s a crowd…
When it comes to putting up the Christmas tree, get some help.
Real of faux –is not something we dare discuss but once decided, get some help if carrying a real tree as they can be quite heavy and awkward! Faux, then be careful on that ladder getting into the loft! Probably more obviously, on the way down too.
When decorating be sensible, use a step where necessary. Don’t overstretch or move in awkward ways that your body isn’t used to!
4. Its Back ….Christmas turkey – which comes first for you?
Whatever you choose to eat … Christmas time calls for extravagance. Impressing those relatives & friends is a normal and enjoyable part of this festive time of year. Back pain however. Not so much!
I refer to a fit and otherwise healthy 56 year old patient that I saw this time last year, whose Christmas was ruined by simply trying to make that infamous Christmas dinner she’d always made. She woke up frighteningly early at 6:30am pre heated the oven and lifted her 11kg (1.7stone) turkey…. Bent over to put in the oven… fine. Closed the over door…….Not so fine…… She couldn’t then get up, had Searing pain and intense sciatica down both legs! Ouch.
It turns out the first gift she got on Christmas morning was “3 prolapsed discs, and an extreme dose of SCI-ATI-CAAAAAA….”, Singing and joking aside, she is now fine but its perhaps something that could have been avoided.
One can only propose shed got out of bed ‘cold’ and over loaded her low back first thing. That’s not to say the disc prolapses weren’t there before but either way they were now symptomatic! However, perhaps if she’d stretched prior to lifting she may have minimised the likelihood of this painful episode occuring? Perhaps not 100% full proof… but in order to enjoy Christmas without back pain, it is surely something well worth considering which takes very little time. She required multiple treatments for as she said, something ‘that blinking bird’ had caused.<br>
5. Keep active
Christmas for most means relax… that’s doesn’t have to mean sitting on a sofa for 2 weeks eating sugar packed treats. Prolonged periods of rest are bad for your joints. Try and get at least 30 minutes of gentle to moderate exercise 3-5 times per week in order to keep your joints and muscles healthy and your mind happy. Essentially just keep as active as normal. And if that’s not normal for you – it’s a great time to start … no work, no excuses now!
<br>If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, put an ice pack or bag of frozen peas (make sure it is wrapped up in a tea towel) on the area that is sore for 10-15 minutes and off for 10-15 minutes. Repeat that process as often as necessary.
7. Visit your osteopath
If you are already experiencing an episode of neck/back pain, or would like to avoid an episode from starting or just want a check up then book an appointment with your local osteopath..
8. MOST importantly have fun this Christmas and Happy New year
Body Balance Osteopathic Clinic
Ps. All we want for christmas this year is a small token ‘like’ on our new Facebook page below; feel free to check it out, where will be regularly sharing posts and ideas to stay fit and healthy!!