It is not uncommon to see people at our clinic either during or soon after the Christmas holidays. In most cases, people are off work and are very busy with shopping, cleaning, cooking and socializing. Some of us travel a distance to see family and friends, and others are preparing their homes for visitors. This means, you are either sitting for extended periods of time socializing or sitting during your travels. You may find yourself standing for extended periods of time in the kitchen and performing a lot of repetitive movements. If you work and have limited time off, all of this usually happens in a short amount of time. Here are a few tips to help you be more movement conscious and healthier during the Christmas holidays.
1. SUSTAINED POSTURES: It is important that you are aware of how long you maintain a specific position. Sitting can cause hip and lower back tightness, and may predispose you to spinal injury from constant spinal compression. So make sure to change out of a sitting posture at least every 45 minutes. We understand that it may seem odd getting up and moving around during a family or work holiday party, but it will keep you limber and flexible and prevent any sitting related injuries. In some cases you may be subjected to longer periods standing, and this can also lead to issues in the hips, low back, feet and knees. It is quite important to understand that there are poor standing postures as well. People like to take the easy route by not utilizing their postural muscles. It is a lot easier and less tiring to slouch while standing, because you tend to use less muscle activation which requires less energy. The trouble is, things do have to restrain against gravity and the weight of your body, therefore ligaments and muscles end up being stretched over time. Muscles that are too stretched will have a lot of tension and become weakened causing mechanical dysfunction and contribute to pain and injury.
2. AVOID REPETITIVE STRAIN: Rushing to clean the entire house or painting and renovating in a short window of time just before visitors arrive can be a recipe for tendonitis and injury caused by repetitive strain. It may be too late, but planning a few months ahead will save you a lot of grief and minimize your stress levels. If you have a task ahead of you that you know will require constant movement of a particular area of the body, you should pace yourself and plan breaks every 15-20 minutes. It is also good practice to switch from right to left and vice versa. Usually, baking and cooking becomes very repetitive especially because you are mass producing during the holidays where gathering is the theme.
3. DON’T STOP WORKING OUT: Most people who consistently workout tend to drop off during the holiday season. This change in the body’s activity could lead to mechanical dysfunction due to stiffness from lack of movement. We are all guilty of being too busy to work out during the holidays, but all we need is 30 minutes 3 days a week. Besides, don’t we want to enjoy all of the eats and treats that this holiday has to offer without setting our fitness goals back too far?