It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Before you know it, 2018 will be here. As we enter full steam ahead into the holiday season, we are excited about the opportunities to partake in some of our favorite activities. Though we all love breaking out the decorations, baking sumptuous desserts, and playing friendly games of pick-up football, there are few reoccurring traditions we’d just as soon like to forget this year. Thrown out backs, neck stiffness, over-eating-induced food comas, and general travel fatigue are among our least favorite memories from previous Thanksgivings.
Fortunately, we here at Premier Health Chiropractic are looking out for your overall wellness. We are going to take a look at some of the most common Thanksgiving-related injuries, their causes, and offer suggestions on how to avoid/be on the lookout for them before incidences occur. And since a healthy diet is integral to living a balanced lifestyle, we’ll even share some expert tips on how to handle the calorie onslaught this Thanksgiving. With a little bit of information, some simple preparation, and a commitment to action, we hope the forthcoming advice will help you celebrate a wonderful, healthy, happy holiday season this year.
Make no mistake about it, this is the busiest travel time of the year. According to Fortune Magazine, a record number of 28.5 million travelers will fly on U.S. airlines between Friday, November 17 and Tuesday, November 28. And that is nothing compared to the amount of people traveling by car. AAA just released the 2017 estimate, and they project that 50.9 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more to reach their Thanksgiving destinations.
Un-reclining plane seats, 4 people in the 3.5 person backseat of the family SUV, Linoleum floor naps in the terminal during flight delays, staring at a traffic stalemate through a fogged over windshield— these aren’t the building blocks of your worst nightmares; they are the realities associated with Thanksgiving travel. And what comes along with them are travel-related ailments.
Other than general fatigue and headaches, the most common injuries are back and neck pain. Sitting for long periods in uncomfortable positions will place undue stress on your lower back and surrounding muscles. When your neck stays in one position too long— say you fall asleep on a plane, and your neck is in an unnatural position— the neck and shoulder muscles will tighten up, and you will experience pain.
In order to avoid neck and back pain, you are going to need to be proactive. If you are traveling by air, here are a few tips:
- Stretch it out. Walk around the terminal if you’re sitting through a delay. In the plane, get up from your seat and walk down the aisle.
- Neck pillow. Trust us, these work. And they are so cheap now, even in the airport shops.
- Rotate carrying arm. Don’t always carry your bag with one hand or slung over one shoulder. Switch it up.
- Pack light. Heavy bags are harder to carry and such a strain. If you absolutely must pack a lot, check your luggage.
If you are traveling by car:
- Take regular breaks. Not only a good excuse to get candy, but it will give you a chance to stretch out a bit.
- Trade seats. Breaks up the conversation, gives you a fresh perspective on the world, and could reduce the pressure on any one given spot on your back or neck.
- Lumbar. Pretty much every car has a built-in lumbar support in the driver’s seat. Use it. I used to think it was only meant for old guys. Not true! It will save your back on long road trips.
If you do take caution and still manage to succumb to back or neck injury, remember that we are always here to assist you. Chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue massages will greatly assist your body’s healing process. Treat yourself right this holiday season. Better yet, treat your loved ones to chiropractic care— it just might be the greatest gift they receive this year!
Holiday-zing the household
With all the days off coming up and December holidays rapidly approaching, many of us use the time to get our homes decked out for the season. This means trips to the garage, attic, basement, and storage to gather up the decorations and haul them back inside the abode. From rummaging around crawl spaces to standing on boxes to reach other boxes up in the rafters to climbing on the roof to mount 40 foot tall, illuminated Santa-in-a-Hawaiian-shirt-and-sunglasses balloon, you are placing yourself in precarious situations where you will be prone to getting injuries. Take heed:
- Prepare. It doesn’t matter if you are in great shape or you’ve done it a million times, you need to be prepared for the tasks at hand. Heck, just last week I dislocated my shoulder plugging in an iPhone because I wasn’t paying attention to how far out of reach the outlet was. Wear the appropriate clothes. Use the appropriate tools. Stretch.
- Buddy up. Don’t go at it alone. Sure, you might be able to carry the 75 pound Christmas tree by yourself, but why? Get assistance. Don’t ruin the holidays with a back injury before they even begin.
- Lift with your legs. This is always easier said than done. Remember not to bend to reach that dust covered tree stand over in the corner, wedged under great grandma’s vanity — go down and get it, always lifting with your legs.
- Take your time. Is it worth getting hurt just to get your nutcrackers perfectly placed atop the bookshelves before the in-laws arrive?
Kitchen as battlefield
pictured: your back’s delicious enemy
Some of the worst damage is done in the kitchen over the holidays, and we are not just referring to Aunt Nan’s “famous” pickled pig knuckles. Slicing and dicing injuries are a given— unfortunately, we are going to have to chalk those up to casualties of cooking. However, as chiropractors, we see a spike in kitchen-related back injuries over Thanksgiving, too. The main culprit: the turkey.
Though that last sentiment may elicit a snicker, it’s no laughing matter. Turkeys are heavy birds. Ovens are low. So let’s paint a fairly familiar picture. A 20 pound bird is placed in a 15 pound roasting pan and placed in the oven. A few hours and cocktails later, dad goes to retrieve the turkey from the oven, and bends at the hip. Back locks up, dad goes down, and even from beyond the grave, the turkey gets one final act of revenge.
Whenever you are lifting heavy items in the kitchen this Thanksgiving— turkeys, hams, pots, deep fryers, whatever— always remember to lift with your legs and/or buddy up. The turkey is the only one that should be laid up at Thanksgiving dinner this year.
post-Thanksgiving dinner food coma
After consuming mass quantities of food, drink, and boring family updates, lethargy settles in. You find a spot on the couch slouch back, and make the proclamation that you will not move until Saturday, if ever again. Fortunately, there’s a Harry Potter marathon on, and you’ve got your own in-house Postmates (i.e. your 7 year old twin nieces) to bring you leftovers from the fridge. From your vantage point, the sedentary lifestyle looks good.
The pleasure of doing nothing will vanish instantaneously the moment you have to do something. Inactivity will make you susceptible to a litany of back, neck, joint and muscle pain. Your body is not meant to be stationary for long periods of time. Don’t give into the temptation, and keep on moving. Stretch, walk around, help with the dishes (ha!), just do something. The goal is to maintain your normal lifestyle and habits, despite the holiday extravaganza. Since we are on the subject of normalcy, let’s segue to the next section…
You are not the Humaturducken!
You are not the Humaturducken!
Look, it is inevitable— you are going to overeat on Thanksgiving. That’s okay, you are definitely not alone. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on a typical Thanksgiving day. Despite this egregious display of gluttony, the after effects do not have to be devastating. As long as you are able to reel it back in and do not continue to eat your way through the holiday season, you will be okay. Just think of it as one heck of a cheat day!
But if you want to avoid blowing it out, which we think is for the best, we have put together some healthy diet tips for Thanksgiving Day. Follow those handy tips, and you will be able to navigate the feeding frenzy and enjoy yourself, guilt free.
- Exercise early in the day. Go to the gym, take a hike, or snag a surf. Burn some calories before you put some back in the tank.
- Eat breakfast. Personally, this is the most difficult thing for me to accomplish. The anticipation of all the culinary goodness that awaits me in the afternoon hours makes me want to starve myself until the big payoff. However, this throws everything out of whack, and I end up esting way too much too fast. If you est a normal breakfast, you will maintain a “normal” hunger when dinner comes around, diminshing the likelihood that you will gorge yourself.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and not just cold ones and spiked nogs. Water will suppress your appetite.
- Sample it all. With all the tasty menu options— some of which you only get to indulge in once a year— your going to want to save room to taste them all. It all comes down to portion control. Rather than loading up on any one or few items, take small portions of everything. Some people call it the “Dixie cup rule.” Basically, your portion for any given item should be able to fit inside a 3-ounce dixie cup. You want to go wide, not deep.
- Slow it down. Thanksgiving dinner is not a race. Slow your roll while you munch on rolls, among other things. Your going to be stuck at the table whether you finish early or not, so you might as well be eating the whole time you are there. Trust us, it will make both the food and the conversations much more digestible.
- Walk it off. Here’s a novel idea: start a new Thanksgiving tradition by going for a walk after dinner. Just a quick walk around the block will clear your head, jog the metabolism, and give you a chance to greet— or spy on— your neighbors.
That about wraps up our Thanksgiving blog for this year. In this festive time of year, we sincerely wish you a happy holiday season. Remember to look out for your health as you partake in all the activities. And if you an adjustment or help managing the pain, we are always here for you throughout the year.