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Wish your spine a very healthy Christmas

by Jane Hodgson 20 November 2008


“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Except for mum, who's in agony with her back with Christmas dinner still to cook. An all too familiar scenario? – try these Physiobench tips to make sure the preparations are painless.

Physiobench tips on keeping your spine healthy this Christmas

The run up to Christmas

  • Shopping – Minimise the weight you are carrying around. Split into two bags with an equal weight in both hands. Minimise the time you are carrying the load for.
  • Internet shopping? Then take the opportunity to correctly set up the computer and chair, maintain a good posture and take frequent breaks.
  • Internet food shopping - get the bottles and other heavy items delivered to your door.
  • Christmas card writing and present wrapping – use a table so you are sat in a good posture rather than sitting at a coffee table or on the floor in front of the TV. This way you put less strain on your spine.

Preparing the feast

  • Preparing veg – think about your posture whilst bent over the sink or worktop.  Change your position regularly; consider using a second washing up bowl in the sink turned up side down to raise the height of the washing up bowl you are working in, or perhaps peel the veg onto a piece of kitchen roll on the worktop instead.
  • Lifting the turkey - removing it from the oven will be heavy – plan how you are going to do it before starting, minimise the distance, possibly break the move down into stages – for instance slide the turkey out of the oven onto a stool, then lift it onto the hob.
  • Loading the dishwasher – lowering the heavy pans onto the lower rack of the dishwasher puts a strain on your spine. Bend your knees rather than your back.

The after dinner slump

  • Prolonged sitting in a poor position increases the pressure on the discs and ligaments of the spine and increases the risk of back pain. Go out for a walk instead, and enjoy the added benefit that this will also aid the digestion – ready for the next onslaught at tea time!


  • Physios are increasingly treating repetitive strain injuries that can be stirred up in part from the prolonged use of gaming consoles. Enjoy your new toy, but take frequent breaks – a family competition taking it in turns to see who can get the highest score is better than one person sitting for hours slouched in a poor position and making a repetitive thumb movements.
  • New style consoles such as the wii do require movement and activity, but if this is unfamiliar activity done for a prolonged period of time it can still cause pain – again take frequent breaks or at least change from one game to another to change the movement needed.

The New Years Resolution

  • Exercise evidence shows that by increasing your activity levels, you'll decrease your chances of getting back pain
  • Pick an activity you think you will enjoy and put yourself some plans in place to increase your chances of keeping at it: set some realistic goals- perhaps enter a race or event in late spring to give you something to aim for; use peer support, persuade a friend or relative to get active with you, join a local club.
  • Smoking - there is a huge link between smoking and the degeneration of the discs in the lumbar spine – so yet another good reason to kick the habit.

If you want to know more about how to self manage your injuries, take a read of our articles

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About the author

Jane Hodgson - Chartered Physiotherapist Jane Hodgson Jane specialises in lower body injuries and has raced competitively in running, orienteering and adventure racing.

Did you know

Poor posture is a major contributory factor in back pain

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