Gearing up for the Holidays

Every year as holiday parties and festivities approach, we see an increase in the number of painful conditions related to preparing, cleaning, and cooking for their parties and guests. With a few simple steps you can help keep yourself healthy, happy and enjoying your holidays without pain. First and foremost, make a list of all of the things you need to do to prepare and get your home ready for company. By doing this you can have a specific amount of items that need to be accomplished by a certain date. Take a moment and look at your list, which tasks involve lifting, which ones have you twisting, or which ones have you standing in one place. By asking yourself these questions you can set out a plan to not overstrain your body, potentially resulting in pain. This may sound like advice from physical therapy nerds, but remember to take time to stretch out and warm up before you begin cooking, cleaning, or decorating your home. (Note from the Editor: That is advice from physical therapy nerds.) Try to break up tasks so you are not doing the same activity for an extended period of time. Vacuum one room, then dust in the next. The more you can vary what you do the better your body will tolerate it. If you approach housework like you would a game or exercises at the gym you will be more prepared to withstand the potential strains on your muscles, joints, and nerves from working around the home. Doing a series of light stretching and warm ups before you vacuum, dust, clean, or cook should help reduce overuse injuries and strains in addition to reducing the chance of next-day soreness.
When it comes to large family meals, you can try bringing a higher chair such as a barstool into the kitchen so you can still do a few tasks while taking a bit of pressure off of your knees and feet. This will allow you to cook longer and still enjoy the rest of the day without the increased pain. In general, if you have been standing too long you should sit, if you’ve been sitting too long you should stand and move around, and if you’ve been upright too long you should lie down at least for a few minutes then get back to it if need be. Also, remember to gently draw-in your abdominals every few minutes while standing and definitely when lifting the turkey out of the oven!
When it comes time to clean up, first and foremost it should be a group effort. I grew up in a home that if you cook, you don’t clean. That way everyone contributes and no one is stuck doing all the work all day. Another way to approach the cleanup is to clean while you cook and then break up the tasks of scrubbing and general rinsing so you can take rest breaks as needed.
If you make a list, remember to warm up before bouts of activity, vary your tasks, and take time to stop and enjoy your holiday’s you will be set up for a happy and healthy holiday season. (Another note from the editor: Sadly, putting schnapps in your hot cocoa does not count as a “warm up”.)

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Advance Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation!

Written by:
Joshua C. Anderson, PTA, CKTP, Cert. ASTYM
Edited by:
Bradford L. Bentley, DPT, OCS, CSCS, Cert. MDT, CMP, Cert. ASTYM