22 Dec An osteopath’s guide to surviving Christmas
Christmas is here! This means extra stress for most of us, as we try to cram in last minute Christmas shopping trips and carry heavy shopping bags throughout shopping centres and malls. There is also the added pressure of keeping our houses sparkling clean, the wrapping (and hiding) of presents, and hours in the kitchen preparing scrumptious meals for our family and friends. Also, let’s not forget the trip to the attic or storage shed to haul out the Christmas tree and our decorations. A jam-packed schedule indeed! In completing these tasks, we are typically unaware of the extra twists and strains we place on our backs (which can result in unnecessary back pain, likely to slow one down over this busy period). However, do not fret, here are some of our tips to keep in mind to enjoy a pain free Christmas:
- Traveling in the car to visit family and friends can mean sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time. Make sure you schedule regular pit stops into your trip so that you can take a break for a quick walk and stretch, to loosen out your tired, sore or stiff muscles. If you have any back ailment, remember to take a lumbar support cushion with you, as it may make the long trip more comfortable for you.
- When packing your luggage and any large, heavy presents into the car, be mindful not to twist when you lift! Always lift bulky or heavy objects by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.
- The vacuum cleaner becomes our best friend around this time of the year, as making sure the house is spick and span when visitors come over is a daily task. To keep your lower back safe and pain-free when operating the vacuum, stand up straight and avoid bending over, twisting at the hip, and exerting a lot of force when pushing the vacuum against a surface with a lot of resistance ( e.g., the carpet).
- Getting the Christmas tree and boxes of decorations out of storage can have us over-reaching or over-arching our backs, as well as trying to balance ourselves, these items and the ladder (or attic hatch) when climbing down. To avoid placing unnecessary strain on your back, make the retrieval of the Christmas tree and decorations a two-person job; one person can climb up the ladder and fetch all the items you need, while the other keeps the ladder stable. The person on the ladder can also pass down the items to the second person, this may help to reduce any stress and strain to the lower back.
Christmas shopping is probably the most stressful and tiring part of the Christmas season. It is a day filled with shopping bags getting bigger and heavier, combined with lots of walking through busy streets, shopping outlets and malls. It is no wonder that by the end of the day we are exhausted, with aching feet, sore arms and a painful back. To try and mitigate the strain to our bodies, try to keep an equal weight of bags on either side of you. Also opt for smaller shopping bags as they are easier to carry. If you are close to your parked car, taking a detour to drop off some bags will help to reduce some pressure and strain from your back and arms. If you aren’t able to offload your shopping, or aren’t able to schedule more than one day for shopping, make sure that you take regular breaks to sit down, relax and re-energise yourself with a drink and your favourite treat.
Banks, S., 2021. Christmas Tips – East Gippsland Osteopathic Clinic. [online] East Gippsland Osteopathic Clinic. Available at: <https://eastgippslandosteopathy.com.au/2021/11/christmas-tips/> [Accessed 19 December 2021].