The silly season is here! We’re all packing to go on holidays or getting ready to rest and relax over the summer and the last thing you want, is to be in pain. Here are my 12 easy steps to avoiding pain over the Christmas period!
1. Stay active!
Part of the rest and relax season is to just sit but this can cause a number of issues including neck and back pain. Motion is lotion! Go for a walk or get up and play with the kids even if its for 20min a day. This will help to prevent stiffness in the neck and back.
2. Think about your posture once a day
We are all going to have to sit this holidays and that’s fine! But just think about how you’re sitting. If you’re on the couch, try to prop some pillows in your lower back to maintain the lumbar spine’s natural curve or place a rolled up towel long ways between your shoulder blades to improve upper back posture.
3. Be careful how you lift things
Make sure that when you’re lifting that you are hinging from the hips and bending the knees as well as keeping the back neutral. Brace with your core muscles before lifting. If you’re lifting an awkward shape (e.g. packing the caravan for the trip away) ask for help! (See the exercise sheet about deadlifts – this is one of the safest ways to lift heavy objects).
4. Make friends with your tennis ball
If you’ve managed to get a niggle from sitting too much or lifting something funny the tennis ball could be a lifesaver! Check out Deb’s youtube video about using the tennis ball to massage the upper back. Make sure you pack it for long trips in the car or plane.
5. The foam roller’s a pretty good friend too
Who doesn’t like a massage? The foam roller is pretty much like taking Dave home with you. You can use it any time to kneed out any knots or tightness or even if you just feel like a relaxing massage. Check out our foam rolling video here.
6. Stock up on Flexeze Heat Packs or Fisiocrem if you’re packing for a trip
Accidents do happen and we can’t avoid them and sometimes we even wake up with a wry neck (stiff neck) – a Flexeze heat pack or Fisiocrem is fantastic for these situations especially while traveling. No microwaves required to heat up the heat pack and Fisiocrem doesn’t smell funky.
7. Lighten your load
Backpacks and heavy handbags are culprits for causing back and neck pain. Lighten your load – spread the weight across a few bags e.g. pop the heavy laptop in a wheely bag when traveling and make sure to use both straps of a backpack or if you use a handbag alternate the shoulder you carry it on.
8. Spread the load
Chores still need to get done over the holiday period including vacuuming which is often the cause of low back pain. Why not spread the load and do a room a day instead of the whole house in 2 hours? Or …. use your minions i.e. children 🙂
9. Maintain a healthy weight
It’s easy to go overboard with all the yummy foods over the holiday period but maintaining a healthy weight will help to reduce the load / stress placed on your back.
10. Get your niggles sorted out ASAP!
If you’ve got a niggle now – NOW is the time to come into the clinic and get it seen to so it doesn’t turn into a full blown injury on Christmas day.
11. For the ladies – wear lower heels or pack some ballet flats
High heels always make you look and feel good but they’re not great for long periods of time. They change your lower and upper back posture as well as put pressure on your big toe and balls of your feet. If you know you’re going to be out for a while, pack a pair of ballet flats to change into to do the long walks to and from the car / public transport.
It’s time to rest, relax and regenerate – good sleep allows time for your body to heal so make sure you get some this holiday period.
The team at Inspired Physio wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for a happy and healthy 2015! Stay safe and enjoy the break!
Deborah Chen, Physiotherapist