Ah the Joys of the Holiday Season… wrapping presents, hanging lights, traveling, marathon cooking sessions. These out of the norm activities bring joy and festivity… AND are rife with opportunities for injury. In today’s blog I will identify the 12 most common injury producing activities that we see here at SpineCare during the Holiday Season, and how to do them safely!
1. Getting decorations down from the garage/attic/storage.
2. Hanging lights outside of the home
3. Putting up the Christmas tree
4. Getting luggage out of the car after a long trip
With these first four Holiday Chores, it’s important to allow yourself plenty of time to complete them. Getting in a rush results in moving quickly through motions we are not accustomed to making, such as climbing up and down ladders, picking up heavy boxes or suitcases, and holding up our arms for extended periods of time. And as a result, we see falls, muscle strains, and disc injuries from these tasks. If you have a back brace or neck collar, the added stabilization can help ensure these activities are completed safely. And most importantly, REMEMBER TO USE PROPER BODY MECHANICS! Bend at the knees, keeping your back straight and use both arms to pick up heavy objects. Avoid twisting movements; turn your feet and entire body together when changing direction.
5. Wrapping Presents- So much fun! Be careful with this activity though. Make sure you are seated or standing with a work set up that allows you to keep your spine and head upright. Avoid sitting on the floor while wrapping presents as this can aggravate the discs in your neck and spine.
6. Long distance travel by car – While this activity isn’t limited to the Holidays, many people do make an annual trek across the country this time of year. As with all seated activities, make sure to take frequent breaks to stand and walk around, and make sure your back and neck are supported and in an upright position as you travel. Also, be aware that travel is often combined with item #4 on this list. This combo is a disc injury waiting to happen if you’re not careful!
7. Holiday movie marathons (and prolonged sitting with family) – Many of us get much needed time off during the holiday season. While some of that time is spent working hard on preparations, we may also be fortunate enough to take time to snuggle on the couch with our loved ones. As with any prolonged sitting, make sure to change positions and get up and walk around periodically so you don’t put stress on your back!
8. Flag football with the extended family
9. Turkey trots/Holiday Fun Runs
10. Skating in the Park
These next three activities involve physical events we may not do regularly but indulge in during the holiday season. As with any activity that our bodies aren’t used to, we engage out of use muscles, resulting in strains, sprains, and in certain cases, tears. Listen to your body, and take frequent breaks when participating in activities you don’t do regularly!
11. Cleaning the House
12. Prolonged bouts of cooking
These final activities of the Holidays bring on injuries when we try to do too much in a hurry. While they don’t involve unusual movements, like the first four items on the list, these final two can involve hours of harried preparation, without adequate rest. Tell your loved ones that Dr. Houssain said that you have to take it easy. Get the squad (family, friends, guests etc) to help out when possible. Wear your cervical collar and/or back brace if applicable.Use proper body mechanics (see #s1-4) to make sure your Holiday Season is injury free, healthy and happy!!!
Wishing you and your family a Healthy and Happy Holiday!
And the entire SpineCare/SpineFit Team