Most Americans spend Thanksgiving split among three places:
- the kitchen
- the table
- the couch
We’re on our feet. We’re carrying heavy stuff—the turkey with stuffing, vats of mashed potatoes, etc. We’re sitting for hours. We’re eating for hours. Such a great holiday…with such great potential for creating back and neck pain.
You may be thinking—Really? It’s just one day; don’t be so dramatic about the possible traumatic effects on the back. But for most people, Thanksgiving isn’t just a one day event. It’s a multi-day, multi-feast event. And really, Thanksgiving is only the pre-game that warms you up for a month of celebrations and special meals and sugar overloads. Think about if you strain a back muscle lifting the turkey out of the oven: all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, and celebrating aren’t going to be too merry.
If you can get Thanksgiving right—if you can get through it with a healthy back—you’re well on your way to enjoying December. And that’s what we’re here to help you do. We have several tips for avoiding back pain in those three Thanksgiving hot spots: the kitchen, the table, and the couch.
Watch your posture and body mechanics. Are you hunched over the cutting board? Are you putting all your weight on one leg? You should particularly watch yourself when pulling the turkey out of the oven. Some of those turkeys are heavy, so you should apply good heavy lifting principles.
Take breaks. With so many people in the kitchen, you can schedule rotating breaks. Have a seat at the kitchen table (if there’s room). Go for a walk (if the weather’s nice; this is also a good way to be proactive against all the extra calories you eat on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays). Play with the kids (if there are kiddos).
Doing something different—using your body in a different way, even just for 15 minutes every hour or so—can help you avoid tired, sore muscles at the end of the day.
Wear good shoes. Contrary to what Donna Reed portrayed, heels are not appropriate footwear for the kitchen, especially when you’re going to be cooking for so long. This article explains how high heels affect your spine. It’s better to wear sensible shoes: any shoes with good arch support and a sole that grips count as sensible shoes.
Get help. We don’t mean hire help or outsource the whole meal. But do not attempt to do the entire meal yourself. You’ll end up spending entirely too much time in the kitchen on your feet. And most of us do not spend that much time standing up on a normal day, so the unexpected strain on your feet, knees, and spine may cause back pain. Get everyone involved in making the meal. It’ll be more fun, plus it’s much easier to pass on traditional family recipes to the next generation if the next generation is actually helping knead the dough and baste the turkey.
Source: www.spineuniverse.com; Kamiah A. Walker; November 20, 2010.