Thanksgiving is only a day away, and if you’re like most Americans, odds are you will be doing some traveling in the next few days. The Thanksgiving holiday provides us time to reconnect with friends and family, but the extra travel and time on your feet can lead to problems in your spine. Today we share some tips to help prevent spine and back problems over the Thanksgiving break.
Thanksgiving and Your Spine
There are numerous times throughout the Thanksgiving weekend that your spine is at risk for problems. Here’s what to watch out for, and how to prevent and treat pain.
1. The Long Car Ride – If your friends or family live hours away, it means you’re going to spend a long time in the car, and that can take a big toll on your spine. There are a number of things you can do to mitigate the effects of a long car ride. First, pack a pillow or a blanket that you can use to get your spine in a comfortable spot. Also, if you’re traveling with others, let them know that you have a bad back, especially if you have a seat preference. Some people with a bad back like the extra leg room in the back, while others can get more comfortable in the shotgun seat. Lastly, if you’re traveling more than an hour, plan a mid-trip break. Doing so will allow you to get out and stretch your spine, which will help prevent pain from settling in. Give yourself a little more time to get to your destination so the quick pit stop won’t put you behind schedule, especially if road conditions are less than ideal.
2. Cooking and the Kitchen – If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, while you’ll be able to avoid the long car ride, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on your feet cooking the turkey and sides in the kitchen. Standing for extended periods, constantly bending over to get in the oven and crouching over the sink to do dishes puts excess stress on your spine. Try to split up duties, and see if you can carve out some time while everything is in the oven to get off your feet for a bit. If you have a preexisting condition, like a herniated disc, let someone else hoist the 20-pound turkey in and out of the oven.
3. The Family Football Game – If you have been dealing with back pain for some time, don’t be afraid to sit out of this year’s family football game. Even a game of touch football can be painful if you lose your balance or step awkwardly. Offer to take video from the sidelines, or find other activity to do with your nieces and nephews while others head outside to toss around the pigskin.
Also, if you’ve decided to hit the outlet mall with your family while others play touch football, make sure you bring a comfortable pair of shoes. Walking around the mall in heels puts a lot of strain on your feet, which can affect your gait, hips and spine. No matter what your post-meal traditions are, plan ahead so you don’t overwork your spine.
4. Buddy Up – Many people use the days after the Thanksgiving holiday to decorate for Christmas and other winter holidays. If you’re going to be climbing up on a ladder to hang lights or carrying boxes down from the attic, don’t do it alone. Make sure you always have someone there to support your ladder, even if you’re only going a couple feet up in the air. Additionally, make sure someone is around to help carry heavy boxes up and down the stairs. The extended weekend is supposed to be a relaxing time, but if you try to get too much done on your own, you can really do damage to your spine.
In the end, three key points to remember this weekend are:
- Find a comfortable spot in the car, and take a mid-journey break.
- Don’t stay on your feet for hours on end.
- Know your limits, from the football game or the mall, to lifting turkeys and boxes.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!