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  • Tara Albright DPT

Avoiding the Holiday "Pain in the Neck"

The Holidays are a great time to enjoy good food and friends/family. It is great to get everyone together and talk about everything that has happened over the past year and what better environment that over a great feast. The problem is that sometimes cooking these great Holiday meals becomes a literal “pain in the neck”. Often times people think this just comes with the season, but there are certain tips and steps you can take to avoid the “holiday pain in the neck”. Below are some tips that will help keep a good, strong, and not sore head on your shoulders.

When standing and doing certain meal preparations avoid the forward head/rounded shoulder posture that is all too common. If you stand with weight evenly distributed on both feet or place one foot on a step stool to alter, maintain a good small curve in your lower back, keep shoulders back, and tilt chin down to look down at the task at hand, it will provide better positioning for your muscles and spine.

When lifting heavy things (such as large turkeys) in and out of the oven it is important to stand cattycorner at the corner of the oven door when open and slide the rack out. Then squat to place the large roast or turkey or whatever you are cooking on the rack and then slide the rack back in to the oven before closing it. Avoid bending at your waist and reaching way out in front of you to grab the heavy item. It is key to keep heavy things as close to your center of gravity as possible in order to keep the strain off the back and neck.

When standing for a long period of time be sure to stand on some kind of a cushioned floor mat to absorb the pressure, also take frequent breaks every 20-30 minutes being sure to recheck your posture, maybe reach overhead for a nice stretch, and stretch your neck side to side gently. NEVER ROLL YOUR NECK AROUND!!! This is not a good stretch to perform because it combines motions that are not intended for the neck and is not the proper way to loosen up muscles. Instead slowly and gently tilt your head to one side and then the other, or slowly tip your head back and look up at the ceiling. Another way to maintain good alignment is to draw chin backwards while keeping chin and eyes parallel to the floor. These are called cervical retractions and help to strengthen the deep neck musculature.

When sitting, be sure to sit in a firm, straight back chair with your buttocks scooted all the way back to the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor, workstation set up to be a little less than elbow height with elbows bent, shoulders back and relaxed, and head on to of neck with chin tilt to look down. For added support you can add a towel roll in the small of your back. This helps to maintain the proper curves in your spine while sitting.

With all of these tips, the key to keep in mind is that our bodies do not like to sustain one position for too long. Frequent breaks every 20-30 minutes to walk around, get a drink of water, perform a few stretches is the best way to survive the long haul of this holiday season. If you are currently experiencing the “holiday pain in the neck”, give us a call and schedule an appointment today. We would love to help you out of your “jam”. To everyone else, Happy Holidays!!!!

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