No matter how young or old you are, we are all susceptible to any kind of accident or injury, particularly during the winter holiday season. Everyone is busy, whether we’re doing last-minute shopping for gifts and groceries or running around the house to make it festive.
The season can be so busy in fact, that should an injury occur, it derails all of the initial plans! Thankfully, preventing a trip to see a physiotherapist this holiday season doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
Along with injury prevention, here at Nova Active Rehab, our integrated rehab professionals enjoy giving our clients some fun ideas to stay active outside of regular sessions. We know it’s not always easy to get into a gym or follow your regular fitness routine, especially during this hectic time of the year.
Our team is here to help. Whether or not you’re prone to injury, here are our tips on how to stay active and prevent you from injury.
1. Be Safe on the Road
With so many people driving around during the holidays for many reasons, and with weather conditions turning wetter, colder, and icier, it’s more important than ever to be cautious on the road. Be aware of other drivers on the road and be sure you have winter tires installed. Always check your road conditions before going out, especially if you are expecting extreme weather in your area. If possible, avoid going on to the road at all if heavy snow is being forecast.
2. Practice Ladder Safety
Injuries during the holiday season can happen too. It’s possible to fall from a ladder while hanging decorations and lights. In such cases, it’s best to make sure you have someone holding the ladder steady. Avoid using a ladder when conditions are wet and slippery. Finally, make sure there are no obstacles or dangers such as power lines close by.
3. Child Safety Equipment
If your child or teen gets a new bike, scooter, or skateboard during the holidays and they want to ride for the first time, please make sure they are safe first. It’s easy to forget about the helmet and pads in the excitement of opening gifts. One good idea for parents is perhaps let your child or teen open the safety items first, stick them on, and then have them open the new ride. That way, they’ll be ready to go, safely.
4. Stress Management
Stress over the holidays adds on to the stress some of us may already have currently. When your body is stressed, it’s more susceptible to illness and injury. Make sure to take some time for yourself and your body during the festivities.
Headaches can be caused by stress, and during this time of year is when they tend to creep up the most. Here are three activities to help prevent headaches.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: While laying on the floor, bend both knees placing your feet flat on the floor. Then place one hand on top of your belly, the other on your chest. Breathe in so your hand on your belly moves, but your hand on your chest does not. Do this for about five minutes.
- Chin Tucks: Chin tucks target your deep neck flexors, which become weak while our superficial neck muscles get overactive, causing headaches. Activating these deep muscles requires gently tucking your chin while sliding your head backward along your floor or bed. Try a maximum of 15 reps. If you feel like you are tensing, stop, pause, and try again later. Tensing is not normal and shouldn’t make a chin tuck feel that way.
- Massage: Self-massaging the back of your neck at the base of your skull for even just a moment should help take away some tension.
5. Bend and Lift
Do you know that age-old saying, “lift with your legs,”? It’s a good saying for a reason. When doing any kind of lifting of heavy boxes, luggage, and so on, make sure you use your legs and not your back to lift each heavy object. Choose a good squat position, keeping it close to your body, and push through your legs to lift.
6. Keep Moving
After any holiday activities such as sledding, ice skating, or even walking, don’t forget to stretch your body, especially your legs. It keeps your blood circulating and prevents stiffness and soreness from fatiguing you too much. Even if you prefer to spend your holidays watching festive movies and shows on the couch, don’t forget to get up and move.
7. Ease into New Year’s Resolutions
Gently ease into any fitness-related New Year’s resolutions you may have set for yourself for this year. Pushing yourself too early can cause serious injury and put your resolution on hold. Gradually increasing and starting slowly gives your body time to adapt to whatever exercise it may be performing.
Try to use the 10% rule; i.e. increase what you do by 10% each week. This helps reduce the possibility of injury while exercising.
8. Watch Your Step!
As the weather gets colder and icier, we become more susceptible to slip and falls. Make sure to wear proper footwear in the ice and snow. Salt your driveway, any walkways, and sidewalks near your house. Lastly, be as careful as you can if you must go out into such weather conditions.
If you do happen to catch yourself in a slip situation, do seek urgent help! The longer you put off healing your injury, the more complicated healing it becomes. If you’re unable to come see our physiotherapist at Nova Active Rehab in person because of your slip, online sessions are available as well.
9. Prepare for a Shoe-In
Wearing running or comfortable walking shoes as much as you can so you are able to move as much as you can. Some ways of breaking in your winter shoes can include taking a walk around the mall before shopping, going for a walk or jog around the neighbourhood while dinner is in the oven, and parking further away and walking to your destination (weather permitting, of course).
To improvise, if you’re stuck inside and you have a basement or spare room, you could do a makeshift small walk with your favourite music blasting.
10. Take the Stairs
According to the CDC, a 150-pound person riding an elevator only burns 1.5 calories, however they burn approximately 10 calories walking up stairs in one minute. Taking the stairs is a slight yet impactful change you can make for yourself.
If you’re not in a rush, or not at your most physically fit right now, take your time. Taking the stairs is still the better option, unless you have been medically told not to.
11. Check Out Trails and Tracks
You can look up local trails and walking/running spots online if the weather is mild enough. When visiting family and friends, check in before you leave for your walk or run, and when you come back, for safety’s sake. Maybe your friends and family have other suggestions that aren’t listed online, like a hidden gem you must check out? And the Lower Mainland has lots of trails to choose from.
12. Go for Holiday Fun Runs/Events
Sometimes fun runs are held and can make a good physical and mental activity. Usually these last about 5 km and some may require a small fee or donation to enter, and many go towards a good charity as well. You don’t have to be an avid runner or Olympic athlete to join in and you can keep your distance all the while if you wish. Doing one of these with a small group of friends or family is multipurpose: it gets you out of the house, it’s good for your body and mind, and it even helps the community.
13. Build Togetherness
Do you have a few houseguests you plan on having during the holidays? You could always encourage them to bring clothing appropriate to go walking or to your local fitness centre. Incorporating activity into your day, even with guests, keeps you active, gets you social, and helps you digest that turkey and pumpkin pie. In addition, getting everyone active can help encourage them to stretch and prevent injury as well.
14. House Cleaning
Pick one day with several hours you have free just to clean the house. We’re referring to the deep and nitty-gritty elbow grease clean. Burning those calories with the bend, squat, stairs, folding laundry, etc. If the floor needs to be waxed, today’s the day. If the back of the fridge needs to be dusted, today’s the day. House cleaning can also be a great gift idea for kids and teens to do for mom and dad this holiday season.
15. Give the Gift of Activity
Perhaps even with all of these ideas in mind, things get so hectic and busy that you might forget to stretch, or practice safety while on the road. Maybe you’re even looking for a last minute gift idea? If so, we offer personal training sessions. This is great if you know anyone who would enjoy the gift of staying active all year round!
Wishing You a Safe and Active Holiday Season
Whether you plan on walking a trail, doing some house cleaning or perhaps a fun run, no matter what activity you choose to embark on make sure it’s not a chore. Even house cleaning can be made fun or enjoyable; it’s all about getting into the spirit of the season.
We hope you find these tips helpful. No matter how hard we try, sometimes accidents happen and we still find ourselves having to visit a physiotherapist. That’s what we’re here for; we’re ready when you need us.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Nova Active Rehab!