Tips for a Pain-Free Holiday Season

 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’re officially getting into the busy holiday season! Whether it’s hosting dinner at your house or traveling to spend time with your loved ones, this tends to be a busy time of the year.

Unfortunately, after the fun is over, sometimes we’re left with pain and soreness in our muscles & joints. Long hours standing, preparing meals, cleaning the house, driving our cars, flying on airplanes, or even sitting on couches…all of these seemingly “simple” tasks can quickly turn into aches and pains which can last long after the holidays are over.

Whether you’re currently recovering from an injury, or just want to avoid one, take a minute to read through a few tips & tricks from the therapists at Harrison Physical Therapy to help you make this a memorable – and pain-free – holiday!

PREPARING MEALS

If it’s your turn to host a holiday party this year, that probably means that you’ll be doing some meal preparation. Typically, this involves a lot of standing, bending and lifting items to/from the fridge or oven, and repetitive motions such as stirring, chopping, or mixing. All of these activities may result in sore muscles, achy joints, and stiffness in your lower back and neck.

  • Take frequent breaks when preparing meals. A mix of brief walking and sitting can help to prevent pain from creeping up on you when cooking and preparing meals. Standing too long can really take a toll on your body!
  • When lifting heavy objects, be sure to lift with your legs. Avoid bending or twisting your back and keep the object as close to your body as possible to avoid over-straining your muscles. Ideally, if you have someone who can help you with this, now is the time to ask!

TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAY

If you’re one of the millions of people traveling to a loved one’s home for Thanksgiving, be aware of the effect that prolonged sitting can have on your body. Lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and knee pain can be made worse by sitting for a period of time. If you’re currently dealing with pain, the seemingly innocent act of sitting can make it much worse.

  • If you’re driving (or a passenger in a car), be sure to take frequent rest stops. Get out of your car and walk for at least one minute before continuing your drive. A sneaky trick is to be sure to drink a lot of water as you drive…not only is it good for you, but it will force to you stop frequently to use the restroom!
  • If you’re flying to your destination, be sure to take frequent breaks from sitting. Walk to the restroom on the plane just to get some movement, as prolonged sitting in a tight space on an airplane can be a recipe for stiff joints and muscles. And for good measure – before you board the plane, be sure to walk a bit and perform some “heel raise” exercises to get the blood flowing in your legs. This helps to prevent blood clots from forming on plane rides – a very real danger that you can help to prevent with the right action!

SPENDING THE HOLIDAY AT HOME

So maybe you don’t have to travel, and maybe you don’t even have to prepare any meals. But don’t be fooled – sometimes not enough activity can be just as dangerous as too much…especially if you’re recovering from an injury.

  • Be sure not to spend too much time sitting on that couch! While it might be soft and comfortable, if you spend too much time sitting on a couch, it results in a lot of pressure on your lower back, neck, and other joints in your body. Try to resist the urge to just “chill” for the day – be sure to get some physical activity. And no, moving your fork to your mouth doesn’t count as exercise!

Whatever your plans for this Thanksgiving, know that you can prevent aches and pains from happening just by following some (or all) of these simple tips! 

Above all, we wish you and your family a very Happy Holiday Season!

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