There are potentially hundreds of ways to injure oneself around the holidays, (not the least of which is criticizing what you were given at the Secret Santa exchange.) Granted that’s typically where the services of Summa Pain Care come into play… after the pain starts. But in the spirit of the holiday, here are a few things that you can do pre-emptively to protect your spinal health.
- Let’s Talk Exercise -The holidays are a brutally busy time of the year and finding some time to hit the gym doesn’t tend to be a top priority for most people. No matter if that means just waking up a tiny bit earlier or staying up a bit later (There’s all that elf work to do after all.) Seriously, try to find some time for that workout. The exercise will help to strengthen the musculature around your spine and can prevent inflammation from developing. In most cases, preventing inflammation prevents the pain.
- Dietary Decisions – We know… the food though. Oh the food! If the Christmas cookies don’t get you than the holiday ham, potatoes, turkey (Hey, some families do another round of bird…), it can be really, REALLY easy to make some lousy dietary decisions around the holidays. Remember though, that foods with major excess carbs and sugars can bring on that inflammation of the spine and other joints that cause the most pain. And that’s beside the consequences of adding a pound or ten to your waistline and puts additional pressure on your spine, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. It’s rough, but try to make some better decisions about what you eat this time…
- Stretch First!–If it’s shoveling the driveway (we’re going to assume your relatives live somewhere it snows…) or your hitting snow bowl for some skiing over the break, make sure that you stretch first! Any kind of major exertion for fun or otherwise can be much easier on your spine if you just limber-up first. And of course if you don’t, you’ll be at a much greater risk of injury, inflammation and pain.
- The Stress Doesn’t Help – As Dr. Alice Chen told the Hospital for Special Surgery in Connecticut, “People think it’s a happy time of year, but it’s also very stressful,” she explains “People are running around shopping, they’re trying to meet deadlines. People are stuck in traffic and they’re in their car longer, which may lead to back and neck pain. They’re walking in the mall for hours with heavy packages. It can be an emotional and sad time for people who have lost family members. All of these factors can lead to back pain or make a minor problem worse.”
- Hours and hours of prep work – Dr. Chen also pointed out that there’s so much more to do this time of year, that everyday tasks at home can become problematic. “I’ve seen people develop back pain after standing for many hours when cooking for the holidays. I’ve treated patients with neck and hand injuries from frantically knitting or crocheting for hours on end to finish a project for the holidays,” Dr. Chen said.
- Assembling Gifts – Remember that elf-work we mentioned? Yeah, that. There is little that can cause a greater combination of stress, poor posture and exertion from parents and grandparents alike than assembling all of the insane gifts that will keep us all awake at 4 AM. “This will test even the strongest back,” Barbara Bergin told SpineUniverse.“The solution: She shares that while it’s hard to avoid putting together toys for your little ones (you could encourage your kids to ask Santa for smaller items which require no assembly, she says), it’s key to be mindful of your back and don’t put too much strain on it while assembling.”
Tis’ the season to be jolly, not to be aching. So do yourself a favor: take it easy this year. A few commonsense steps can make the difference between a painful holiday and a joyous one. We hope that you’ll be able to avoid injury and pain this year, but in the event that you can’t, at Summa Pain Care we can help. No matter what holiday you celebrate, make it a happy one, and not a painful one.
Find your nearest Summa Pain Care location in Peoria, Phoenix or North Scottsdale today and don’t put this off any longer. Unaddressed back pain generally doesn’t improve. Call our Phoenix location at 623.580.4357 , you can reach Peoria at 623.776.8686 or contact us in North Scottsdale at 480.786.1771.
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