Christmas is fast approaching and it can be a very full on period. With parties and all the over indulgence that goes with them, in addition to all the preparation, rushing around shopping, cooking and possibly extra travelling – looking after yourself normally goes to the back of the queue.
We want to make sure you can fully enjoy your Christmas break and get involved in all the festive activities, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you look after your back!
Our Guide on How To Stop Back Pain Ruining Your Christmas
The Last Few Days…
Last Minute Shopping – We’ve all done it, maybe you have left things till the last minute or suddenly realised a few gifts that you have forgotten. When out getting those last few items, try to minimise the weight you have to carry in one go. If possible split loads into two bags so you distribute the weight more evenly in each arm.
Getting the food in – Think about using the Internet to your advantage although remember your posture 🙂 Rather than carrying heavy items around the shops order them online. This is perfect for bottles or other heavy groceries and saves you precious time too. Pick the right supermarket and your delivery driver will also carry all of your shopping straight into the kitchen! There are so many other shoppers out, parking can be a nightmare, and wonky wheels on shopping trolleys can play havoc with your back too. Ordering online avoids all of these factors and cuts down on the stress levels, plus you also avoid the temptation of extra items that you probably don’t really need anyway.
Wrapping Up The Presents – Use a table so you can either stand to do the wrapping or at least be sitting up in a good posture. Varying between sitting and standing is even better. It may seem fine wrapping the gifts on the floor in front of the TV, or sat on the sofa twisted to one side but bending like that will put a huge strain on your back – we have had patients come into clinic in agony because of doing this. Resist the temptation, this simple tip alone will really help you stop back pain ruining your Christmas.
The Christmas Lunch…
Preparations – remember your posture whilst you prepare your meal. Working at the sink, particularly if you are tall, can cause you to round your back as it can be a little low, adding to the strain on your back. Can you work sitting at the kitchen table (sitting well of course!) or standing at the work surface instead?
If you feel the work surface is too low you can use items in your kitchen to artificially raise the height. Add a thicker chopping board, two on top of each other, or even an upturned bowl big enough so that you are still chopping on a stable surface? You need to make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and your forearms level to avoid excessive strain on your upper back and arms.
It’s easy to get stuck in one position for a long time so try to vary the jobs. This will ensure you are changing your position regularly and will help you to stop back pain.
Taking the Turkey/Goose out of the Oven – consider what you will be lifting using this simple equation:
Weight of the bird + tray + veg + roast potatoes = heavy!
Clear down the work surfaces FIRST rather than trying to frantically swipe everything out of the way with your elbow, whilst balancing a heavy roasting tray.
You back is strongest when you lift directly in front of you and close to your body, so can you do that easily with your oven at the height and position that it is?
You may need to slide the bird out first, either onto the oven door (if it is designed to take weight) or maybe a stool that is protected from the heat of the roasting tray. That way it will be closer to you to then lift up. If you are unsure if you can take the weight easily ask someone else to help.
The Aftermath! – After indulging so much, all the washing up after the Christmas meal can seem like a mammoth task. Rather than think of ploughing through it all in one go, break up the task over the rest of the day.
Or even better get everyone else involved, after all Christmas is about giving 🙂 Try bribing your satisfied diners with their Christmas presents until they help out (don’t tell them we told you to). If you are tall and find you are stooping to wash up, now would be a good time to use the upturned bowl of a similar size to your main bowl or a roasting tray, as we mentioned earlier. Use it underneath your main washing bowl to bring the washing up closer and help you to stop back pain starting. Your shoulders should be relaxed as you wash. If you have one, open the cupboard door underneath your sink and rest your foot on the bottom shelf. This can help to relax the muscles slightly and take any undue pressure off your back – make sure you switch legs whilst you work.
If you are the proud owner of a dishwasher, be careful how you load and unload it, especially the heavy pots and pans. Be sure to bend your knees and not your back. Our video on loading the dishwasher talks you through this.
Presents, TV and Games Time!!
Prolonged sitting, particularly in a bad position, puts pressure on the discs and ligaments of your back, which can lead to pain. Stop back pain from starting by changing position if you do find yourself sitting for a while. This is particularly if you have had a few ‘drinkies’ because alcohol is a muscle relaxant! Better still why not go out for a family walk to burn off that dinner and create some extra space for an evening meal.
Presents and Games – Are you a board game family or is this the time the Wii comes out and the family tournament commences? If you like a good board game, try to play at a table rather than sitting on the floor – once again it helps you keep a better posture. Get ready for your victory dance and play standing up, then run around with your arms above your head in celebration… or is that just me?
When it comes to console games, a little family competition is good as it ensures you all have frequent breaks from the repetitive thumb and arm/hand movements on the controls. The more active games with the Wii will keep you moving but could test muscles you haven’t used in a while, so player changes and breaks will reduce the chances of you suffering later. Play different games too, or you may end up with a Wii injury! Remember your posture when you take your breaks though.
Above all we hope you have a fun and festive Christmas free of back pain.