Help your body through hazards of the holiday season
There’s a funny story in my family about the time a roasting turkey (so, just for clarity, NOT a live turkey), went streaking across the kitchen floor.
The story goes that someone (of course no one claims to be the actual person) attempted to remove the not-so-well-secured turkey from the oven, and the next thing everyone remembers is the flying, slipping, sliding, twirling – but otherwise cooked – turkey zipping across the floor.
Naturally, I have a theory that if the unidentified person had been using proper body mechanics and moving mindfully, well … okay, it wouldn’t have saved the turkey’s life, but let’s just agree no one wants the turkey propelling itself out of the oven, no matter how funny a story it might make years later.
Gift-wrapping is painful in more places than your wallet
On a more serious note, a client shared with me this week how much physical pain she experienced from hours of gift wrapping. Before you go psycho-analyzing all the reasons that might happen, know that she is a proud mother and grandmother, motivated by the happy faces she’ll see when they unwrap her handiwork, and her pain was not emotional or wallet-related. It was predictably the result of being in certain positions for too long without a break – i.e., sitting on the floor, bending over packages, knees tucked in for a long period of time.
The fact is: Holiday time is tough on bodies.
Think about it: Long periods of gift-wrapping might be at the relatively harmless end of the spectrum, but then there’s cooking, cleaning (before, during and after visitors!), traveling long distances in the car, navigating airports and train stations, lifting heavy luggage, sleeping in cramped spaces or on lumpy beds and – sometimes – shoveling snow.
So help your body out. Here are some tips.
Keep things close: This may not work with some of the people you are required to be with over the holidays, but do apply it to all inanimate objects of significant weight.
You’ve probably heard this before but it’s so easy to forget when we’re scurrying around, trying to get somewhere or get food on the table and surrounding by holiday mayhem: The further away from your body an object is, the heavier it is. Period. This principal makes heavy objects worth handling carefully. So, that huge pot of potatoes, THE TURKEY or ham (or veggie loaf), your suitcase, children, pets – take the time to position yourself so you have them as close to you as possible before lifting, as well as when placing them down at their destination. That means if a little person or large animal is in your way when trying to place the corn pudding on the table, wait for the creature to move so you don’t have to reach forward with the heavy tray!
Wiggle and stretch: Try not to stay in one slouching or scrunched-up position for more than 30 minutes. I know this is not practical on long trips, so in those cases, make sure to wiggle anything you can – toes, ankles, shoulders, hips. Move them around. Squeeze your butt cheeks (yes I said that). Lengthen your spine by sitting up tall, even if momentarily. These “interruptions” to the stationary position of your body prevent your soft tissues from getting settled and “stuck” in one place too long. That “stuck” place is what leads to aches and pains when you get out of the car. Also, if you’ve been in one position for an extended period of time, make a slow – not rapid – transition out of it.
Take a “constructive rest” position:
One day I’ll write more about this, but some of my clients have been fortunate enough to discover the wonders for themselves. Constructive rest puts your body in a nicely supported position, and one in which gravity can help it relax and release tension. There are a few versions, the most simple of which is to lie on the floor with bent knees and arms by your side. Another version – especially helpful to people with cranky backs – is to rest your lower legs on a chair or couch. The key to getting the most out of this is to give yourself time to relax – at least 5 minutes. Add some deep breathing, and really focus on giving yourself this time to replenish. Even a brief investment in this position can be extremely helpful to a body that’s been toiling and slaving or otherwise stressed.
Lastly, if you doubt that you’ll use this advice while on vacation but want to learn more after the holidays, there’s still time to take advantage of these specials packages of 4 or 10 sessions at reduced prices.
Wishing you a safe and restful holiday season!