You might think Christmas would be a pretty safe time of the year when it comes to avoiding injury, but you’d be surprised at how many people we see at West 1 Physio who’ve come a cropper during the holidays.
While we all understand that hurtling down a ski slope has the potential to end in a spectacular mess, we don’t always realise that doing yourself a nasty injury doesn’t actually take much effort at all.
Christmas Day itself is littered with opportunities to do some mischief to your back, neck or other joints.
Here are some injury traps you might want to avoid unless you fancy a New Year trip to see us for some physiotherapy:
Your Christmas turkey is likely to be a big old bird and certainly large enough to give you some problems if you don’t handle it properly. Whether it’s turkey or something less traditional, a joint that’s big enough to feed an extended family might run to 10lbs or more. You only need to think about picking that up the wrong way and you can hear your back twang, and given that you’re going to be bending to get it in and out of the oven for basting, the opportunity for things to go wrong is far more obvious than you might think.
Remember – always place your feet shoulder width apart and bend at the knees in order to pick up anything of any real weight.
For parents of younger children, Christmas is an injury minefield.
How many parents spend Christmas Day contorting themselves into all sorts of odd positions so they can put little Johnny’s or Jenny’s brand-new must-be-able-to-play-with-it-today-or-Christmas-is-ruined toy?
From cricking your neck to bending into totally unnatural positions to reach fiddly screws, nuts and bolts, you’re only ever one over-reach away from a trapped nerve or stretched muscle.
Sometimes, getting into positions your body isn’t used to can’t be avoided, but if you simply can’t tackle the job any other way, just take it slow and easy. Muscle, ligament and joint issues are often caused through a lack of preparation, so if you give some time to thinking about the best way to approach the task at hand, you’re less likely to suffer an avoidable injury.
Sometimes you don’t have to do anything at all to end up in need of the services of a physiotherapist.
Post-turkey and all the trimmings, more chestnut stuffing than your body knows how to digest and one glass of sherry too many, and you’ll be ready to nod off during Her Maj’s 3pm appointment with the nation and wake up just in time to see the end credits of the Bond movie.
Not only have you lost two hours of your day, you’ve also lost the ability to turn your head because you’ve slept at an awkward angle and you’ve cricked your neck.
This is one of those injuries that’s just unlucky and there’s not much you can do to avoid it beyond having a doze on your bed rather than in the chair.
If you’re sporty, then it might be tempting to take advantage of the time away from work to indulge your hobby.
Whether it’s running or playing tennis, golf, football or something else, the weather at this time of year makes sport – already a prime source of injuries – even riskier.
Rain makes roads slippery and turns playing fields into divot-ridden quagmires where a turned ankle or knee is only a misplaced step away. And the dangers of ice and snow need no explanation or introduction.
If you plan to play sport this Christmas, make sure you have the right kit for the job and the elements.
And when Christmas and New Year are done and dusted, it’s time to put the decorations away. That might mean humping heavy boxes up and down stairs and in and out of the loft.
The best advice here is to make sure you have someone on hand to help you.
Quite apart from the increased danger of falling down the stairs when you’re hefting heavy loads up and down, having a helper means sharing the weight as well, making you less susceptible to injury.
Keep these tips in mind as you go about the business of enjoying your Christmas and hopefully you’ll escape with nothing more than a few frayed nerves over a tense game of Monopoly.