Many of us spend Thanksgiving in three places: standing in the kitchen, sitting at the table, and then carving out a spot for ourselves on the couch. We’re on our feet slaving over a hot stove, then carrying food and lifting heavy pots and pans, the turkey, the stuffing, vats of mashed potatoes…you get it. Then at dinner time we sit for hours to eat and chat and visit. It’s a great holiday for connecting with family and friends and making memories. But it’s also a prime time for triggering body aches and pains, especially if traveling to meet up with family also calls for long car rides and unfamiliar beds. With a little extra awareness you can avoid hurting yourself.
For a lot of people, Thanksgiving isn’t just a one day event. It’s a multi-day, multi-feast celebration. Thanksgiving is really only the pre-game that warms you up for a month of celebrations, shopping, cooking special meals and sugar overloads from all the holiday baking.
The preparation portion of the holiday feasting can be a culprit in body aches and pains, and possible injuries. While creating your food masterpiece, watch your posture and body mechanics. Are you hunched over the cutting board? Are you putting all your weight on one leg?
You should particularly watch yourself when pulling the turkey out of the oven. Some of those turkeys are heavy, so you should apply good heavy lifting principles. Take breaks. With so many people in the kitchen, you can schedule rotating breaks. Have a seat at the kitchen table (if there’s room). Go for a walk (if the weather’s nice; this is also a good way to be proactive against all the extra calories you eat on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays). Play with the kids (if there are kiddos).
Doing something different. Just using your body in a different way, even for 15 minutes every hour or so can help you avoid tired, sore muscles at the end of the day. Wear good, supportive shoes. Contrary to what Donna Reed portrayed, heels are not appropriate footwear for the kitchen, especially when you’re going to be cooking for so long.
Once finished with your meal and table visit, get up from the table. As a family, weather permitting, take a brisk walk after the meal. In fact, during the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about exercise as it can be easy to get behind. Throughout December and into the New Year, stick to your workout schedule or get a head start on a New Year’s resolution and begin an exercise plan.
If you’re going to nap after your big meal or annual family touch-football game, and face it, you probably are, go lay down in a real bed. Too many of us end up in the oddest positions when we doze on the couch, and very few people really think about the angle of their neck before drifting off in the recliner.
Then you know how it can be. You wake up an hour or three later, and the first thing you do is reach up to massage your sore neck. Of course then the second thing you do is get up to go get another piece of pumpkin pie.
Watch your posture. Slumping into the couch places an unnatural strain on your spine. Make sure that your low back is supported: use a pillow to give lumbar support if necessary.
One of the best ways to make sure you don’t strain your back muscles while watching TV is rather simple: don’t spend huge amounts of time in front of it. Granted, you do need to watch football or a holiday movie, but get up every hour and move around a bit. Change positions frequently when you’re sitting down.
We recommend quality family time and fellowship all year, not just in November as we enter the holiday season. But if this month of togetherness kicks off a new and improved routine, great! We are here to be part of your wellness journey and welcome you into our practice of care and healing.