Like it or not, the festive season is upon us, bringing joy, laughter, and a myriad of activities that can take their toll on us. Whether it's crawling into the attic for decorations, mince pie bakeathons, dancing in those worn-once-a-year stilettos or being cramped up in the car to spend 3 nights on the relative's camp bed, they can lead to aches and pains. In this blog, we'll take you through our 7 steps to ensuring a pain-free Christmas, allowing you to fully embrace the spirit of the season.
1. **Preventative Measures**
Begin by addressing potential pain points before they arise. If you have a niggle, now is the time to get it checked. This doesn’t necessarily mean starting a course of treatment this side of Christmas, but we can take a look and give you a plan of strategies to manage it, and exercises to get you on the mend, rather than it becoming worse over the holidays. I think if there was one single piece of wisdom I could give, it’s that the sooner we see a problem, the (by far) quicker it is to treat.
Whether you're hunched up wrapping gifts, reaching high and low decorating the house, or standing for hours in the kitchen preparing a festive feast, paying attention to ergonomics is crucial. Alternate positions, even if that means moving the Sellotape dispenser left to right with each gift; move around and be sensible – if you can’t reach it find someone or something who can!
3. **Stress Management Techniques**
Stress is a common contributor to pain. It sounds obvious but sometimes we all need to be told, ‘take time for you’. Self-care is vital, it might just be hiding away somewhere quiet and calm with a hot brew and a mince pie, doing some YouTube yoga sessions at home if your usual classes are off for a fortnight or having a hot bath – all are as good for the body, as they are for the mind.
4. **Posture Check**
For a lot of us the holidays often include those pyjama days with back-to-back films or binging that series you’ve been meaning to watch all year. VERY good for the soul, maybe not so good for the body! Make sure your body, shoulders and head are all facing the screen and that the screen is not super high (or low). Be a diva about arranging the cushions exactly how you want them(!) and try to get up, have a good stretch and potter about in between episodes!
Whilst the gym might be closed and classes not running, incorporating some living-room-Pilates when you haven’t got to rush in the mornings or sunny afternoon walks, can help us to stay active and spend time with the family.
6. **Self-Management Strategies**
We always emphasise the importance of self-care but what we always hear from our clients is, “I never know what to use”. If it’s an ache and it’s been there a while – heat and if it’s new, hot or swollen – ice. Whichever you do, wrap it in a thin towel and leave it there for 20 minutes, twice a day. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of topical creams and rubs too – arnica, ibuprofen or diclofenac (Voltarol) can all be really helpful – be guided by us, or a pharmacist, as to which will benefit you and is safe to use.
7. **Navigating Travel Pains**
If you’re embarking on holiday travel, plan in regular stretch-stops and again, be a diva about your seat position if you’re driving, and use extra cushions and neck supports if you’re a passenger.
Whatever Christmas means to you, it certainly shouldn’t be a time of pain and pill-popping. Whether it's just an intermittent niggle or take-your-breath-away pain, don’t ignore it. There’s so much that can be done to help, whether it's self-care like the above or guided strategies from us. And to re-state my never-ending mantra, “The sooner you address something, the sooner it’s resolved.”
Wishing you all the Christmas joy, your pain-free-Christmas-fairy, Sarah