The festive and holiday season is almost upon us and many of us are looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends, many of whom we may not have seen in quite some time.
In the lead up to Christmas,
we are often involved in festive activities such as preparing our house and garden for visitors at Christmas, putting up the Christmas tree, and of course, Christmas shopping.
Plus, we have been less active during the past 18 months of lockdowns and social distancing, meaning many of us have a lower level of fitness than we once did. This blog will discuss some of the festive activities that can leave you at greater risk of injury and six tips to help you minimise those risks.
Some festive activities that can present issues are:
The Christmas Tree
Putting up the Christmas tree is a fun festive activity to do at this time of year. However, Christmas trees and the boxes of decorations that have been stored away can be heavy to carry around, and if not carried correctly, can result in lower back pain. Additionally, repeated bending into the boxes of decorations, which are often placed on the floor, can be a problem. A few bends are ok, but if you are repeating this movement multiple times in a short space of time, it can be a potential problem.
Shopping for gifts and the food for Christmas celebrations is a task many of us either love or endure, depending on your point of view. The scenario can often play out like this: you have left your shopping to the last minute, so now you are in a rush, and you have a long list to get through. When you finally find that elusive free time, you manage to buy everything you need in one go. However, you didn’t bring quite enough carry bags and the shopping you are carrying is heavy. You are pleased that you managed to get everything on your list as you carry all the shopping into the house from the car. Unfortunately, this also means you have made a lot of repeated lifting movements in a short time. Lifting the shopping into the trolley, out of the trolley at the register, back into the trolley, into the car, out of the car and carrying it inside, and finally, lifting the shopping up onto the bench or table. The next day your shoulder is in agony, and you have a rotator cuff tear! Not a great start to the festive season.
To avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort at Christmas here are five tips to reduce your risk of a Christmas injury
1. Be aware that you may be more vulnerable this year as many of us have been less active for an extended amount of time
2. Try to plan ahead so you don’t need to rush and allow yourself extra time so that you can pace yourself
3. Share the load with others. Ask for help.
4. When picking up the Christmas tree and boxes of decorations
• Plan the move and clear your pathway
• Get someone to help you carry any heavy objects
• Lift safely, avoid twisting and remember to bend at the knees
5. Avoid repeated bending when decorating the tree
• Lift the boxes to a higher point (such as the lounge or a table) so that you aren’t bending over repeatedly
Keeping your lower back and shoulders strong is helpful for these festive activities. You can do this with a few simple exercises. Exercises that will help protect your lower back are:
- Bridges – lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your buttock muscles and lift your hips high off the floor.
- Back extension – lie on your front with your hands by your shoulders, lifting your chest and hands off the floor, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
The video demonstrates how to improve the strength of your abdominal muscles which support your lower back.
At Move Better for Life, our focus is on keeping you fit and healthy. If you’re in pain, feeling unmotivated or looking to improve your overall wellbeing, we are here for you. Our team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and exercise physiologists will help you achieve your physical health goals.
Depending on the current circumstances, we can assist you within the comfort of your own home or face-to-face.
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