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Wish your spine a very healthy Christmas

by Jane Hodgson 20 November 2008


Summary:

“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!

Games

  • 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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