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All I want for Christmas is a 'good' back - how to prevent festive injury hazards

No one wants to be injured and missing out on the festivities, however, at Christmas we often rush around to get everything ready and do activities we don't do any other time of the year. With the distractions, we forget about the stress and strain we put on our bodies, often being careless and inviting injury to occur.

So which festive preparations should you take special care with to avoid the unwanted gift of back pain?

Present Shopping

If you're heading out to the shops this year then follow our present shopping tips to avoid back pain. Often we try to do too much in one trip to avoid having to battle the queues again but overloading with shopping bags and spending more time in queues in one hit can cause aggravation of the low back structures, because we're overdoing it and as a result our muscles begin to fatigue.

So we recommend breaking up your shopping trips and planning what you need to get and the stores you'll find this so you spend less time. Awkward or heavier gifts we recommend picking up on their own and if they're too much for you to carry alone have a member of staff help you to the car or take help.

Tree Decorating

It doesn't matter if you're a lover of real Christmas trees or artificial there's similarities that can often trigger back pain.

Lifting your tree in or out of the cupboard is the first stumbling block, so make sure you lift correctly using your legs and not your back, but also get help as often trees or tree boxes are awkward to carry alone especially for the taller varieties of tree.

Decorating itself can seem therapeutic but if your back is vulnerable making sure your decorations aren't at a height where you are frequently bending up and down or sitting on the floor to sort. So replacing the floor with a table or putting the ironing board up next to the tree to lift the decorations up off the floor in easier reach for decorating the tree. If you have kids that want to help have them do the lower branches and be careful picking them up to put the decoration on top, I know that was a family tradition of ours when I was younger. Or better still use a step ladder.

Plug your lights in at an accessible socket so you avoid overreaching or straining to turn them on and off daily whilst the festive period is underway.

Festive outings

When going to Christmas markets, the panto, Winter Wonderland or Light switch on events, its important to acknowledge the type of activity you're attending. If you know the event you're attending or have done your research you should find these questions answer whether your chronic, historic or low back vulnerability is up to the challenge of the festivity.

  • Will there be seating available?

  • How long will I have to stand?

  • Will I be able to move about?

  • Will the children need picking up/ carrying?

  • What surface will it be/ have I got appropriate footwear?

There are ways to modify your event if you want to participate but are concerned. And if you are in one position for a lengthy amount of time then resort to your Osteo homework and stretch the muscle groups that you've used the most.

Present Wrapping

Presents wrapping can be a time consuming process so making sure you have the best wrapping station is essential. We recommend sitting at a table or using your ironing board as a surface to wrap on if you prefer standing as they're better height adjusted. Only wrap what is essential so the fiddly, more awkward gifts pop them in a bag. Our body's aren't designed to spend a long time in any position so breaking up your wrapping into smaller chunks or taking regular breaks will help.

Cooking the Turkey

Depending on the number of mouths you have to feed the turkey can get heavy, so making sure you lift the turkey in and out of the oven correctly is important. If you have to bend down to the oven take extra care and if you think it's too heavy or awkward for your back assign the job to someone else.

Christmas Work Parties

When it comes to celebrating in the office, Christmas is the ideal opportunity but often we make poor footwear decisions, and dance too hard leading to aches and pains in the run up to the holiday. So make sure to wear sensible footwear for the celebrations and listen to your body.

Look after your backs this Christmas, we hope you have found these tips useful. For all your festive injuries we will be operating reduced clinic hours over the holidays so check our booking system for all availability.

Happy Christmas from the Laura Fishlock Osteopathy Team!

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