Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but not if you’ve got Present Wrapping Back, Shopping Shoulder, Tree Stretching Neck or Sofa Surfing Hip.
Ok, so we might have made those names up but every December and January, we see a rise in acute back, hip, shoulder and neck pain and our local Osteopath tell us it’s all Christmas related.
If you don’t want want to be a statistic, or spend more time at the Osteopath’s than spend time with your family, then check out our helpful tips for surviving back pain this Christmas.
Probably the biggest increase is in back pain associated with spending more time doing very little. We sit around watching television, eating and drinking, and sometimes even a fair bit of stress.”
When it comes to Christmas shopping, remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Buying earlier means, you can take your time (and spread the cost), and your bags have just a few things in them. Waiting for a mad last-minute panic, though means a huge shop and loads of bags weighing down on your shoulders. That means one side of your body is pulled downwards, causing strain to the neck and shoulder muscles and compressing the mid back.
Hopefully, you’ve packed away your Christmas decorations neatly and carefully into the loft, so there is less need to struggle around hauling them out. Lugging the Christmas tree in and trying to get it straight has its own hazard too, whilst overstretching, bending, and twisting awkwardly to put on the strings of lights and baubles can cause tweaks to your neck and back. So remember to use a step ladder to avoid overreaching, squat down properly to do the low baubles, and get a helper for those strings of lights. Christmas tree decorating is even more fun with a friend, so get some helpers and music on and save your back!
Christmas Present Pain
Everyone sits on the floor to wrap their Christmas presents, but this bending over and sitting combo ends up piling up pressure on your back, joints, and muscles. Getting up again soon gives you a painful reminder! This year, remember to use your ironing board! (it’s what they’re meant for – haha) Set yourself up at a comfortable seating height, adjusting the board to a natural elbow level. Get all your wrapping paper, scissors, labels, sellotape, and pen and pop them on one end of the ironing board. Have all your presents a handy (non-over-reaching) distance away. Stick on a Christmas movie, have a drink nearby and you’re good to go. No pain, no grumbles, and a speedy easy job of wrapping.
We’re not here to be a killjoy but alcohol often is a factor in many of the injuries there are over Christmas. Of course, there is the obvious URI’s (unidentified random injury) – you wake up one morning after a fun Christmas night before and something’s hurting and you have no idea why! Maybe it’s a PFO (pissed and fell over!) or maybe it’s the hours of dancing in high heels causing aching feet and thighs that feel like you’ve done a weights squat class. Or maybe it’s the hazy memory of insisting your novice Pilates friends do the 12 Days of Christmas Teasers with you!
Whilst moderate alcohol intake does have a muscle relaxation effect, remember that the next day it all wears off!
Remember in lockdown when everyone moved less and the rise in back pain went up ten fold?!
You made it through the mayhem of Christmas morning and into the afternoon on Christmas Day uninjured. You may have been working in the kitchen on your feet for hours, or bending over the kids on the floor helping to build castles, put in batteries and pick up all the empty packaging. Your back or shoulders may be tightening up but now it is time to relax. You slump down into the sofa and watch a bit of TV. It seems like you stay there until the end of Boxing Day just chilling, feeling full of food and alcohol. By the time it is all over you feel like your back is shouting and you are desperate to go for a walk. Add in sleeping on relative’s sofa’s or spare room beds and you’ve got a recipe for a grumbling body. So remember to stay active just a little every day.
A morning brisk walk for just 20 minutes is all you need to spark the dopamine and endorphin levels, or check out one of our popular “Happy Hips” video to stretch out in the evening before bed.
Wishing you comfort and joy this Christmas! 🙂