Head, shoulders, knees and toes: Top tips for keeping your body working smoothly this festive season
The busy festive season is here. Bringing with it food, friends, family and good times. ‘Tis the season, after all.
“But just because the celebrations are in full swing, it doesn’t mean you need to let good habits go to waste,” Denise Callaghan, Osteopath says. “As an Osteo, I want to keep my clients feeling good and moving well, day in and day out. And the Christmas period is no different.”
So, why not start 2023 how you mean to go on? Here’s some easy-to-follow and easy-to-achieve top tips for keeping your body in working order this year and the next.
- Keep exercising
Don’t let the cold weather put you off. It’s good for you physically of course but also mentally. Plus, it’s much better to maintain a general level of fitness all year round rather than starting and stopping again.
“Although any movement is better than no movement at all,” Denise says. “Try to incorporate some weight bearing exercises too to help build bone strength.”
You could try some bodyweight exercises like mountain climbers, planks or balance exercises like standing on one foot. While a compound movement like a squats, deadlifts, lunges or push ups, are another great weight-bearing example as they target multiple muscles all at once.
- Get outside
There’s nothing like some fresh air for blowing away the cobwebs (also running off excess energy on kids and dogs). So, step away from the Quality Street, wrap up warm and leave your home. You could even take a hot brew with you in a trusty keep cup to keep you toasty while on the move.
“A 30-minute walk each day will make that afternoon snuggle on the sofa with a mince pie so much more rewarding,” Denise adds. “But walking each day will also help you clock up your 10,000 steps which, as research has proven, can help to lower blood pressure, stress levels and the risk of heart disease.”
- Treat your feet to good shoes!
Christmas parties to go to? New Year’s Eve gatherings to attend? Those of us who enjoy a high heel may be out of practice as there haven’t been so many opportunities to wear them in the past few years.
“But the trick is to engage your abs as you walk,” Denise says. “Put your heel down first and roll through your foot. And if you’re buying new heels then it might be worth considering a platform which offers you all the leg-lengthening benefits of heels, but with a more stable base.”
Of course, Christmas and the New Year isn’t all about heels. Following on from tip number 2, you might also be enjoying some long walks too.
“Which is why it’s worth investing in appropriate shoes,” Denise says. “Wellies are great for keeping our feet dry but they’re really not great for walking. A sturdy trainer or walking shoe can take you across all terrains and will last years.”
- Don’t scrimp on sleep
It’s the party season, we know. But sleep is vital to your wellbeing, so try not to burn the candle at both ends. This is also a time of year when many of us find ourselves sleeping on sofas or temporary beds.
“This can play havoc with necks and backs,” Denise says. “Minimise the impact by making sure you have a good pillow to support your head and keep your spine in alignment. Even if that means taking yours along with you!”.
- Watch your reps
Here’s another important factor to think about: be conscious of activities (especially repetitious ones) that you may not do at other times of the year.
We’re thinking writing cards, wrapping presents or even shovelling snow. So make sure you’re properly set up for the task with the right tools in the right place. And when it comes to clearing snow Denise has some good advice: “Most people bend from the waist over the shovel and then twist their body with the full shovel of snow to throw it behind them.
“But repeating this action can cause back problems. The better way is to bend from the knees while keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Put the snow to the side so you can eliminate that twist and keep the shovel close to you. The closer something is to your body the easier it is to lift.”
- Stretch appeal
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: stretching is something we should all be doing on a regular basis. Especially if you spend most of your day sitting down or in one position — whether it’s around the dining table this Christmas or slumped on the sofa watching catchup TV.
Denise says: “Along with increasing your flexibility, stretching can also improve your posture, and ease aches and pains. It can also help to keep the muscles strong and healthy, along with relieving stress.”
- Stay hydrated!
No matter whether you’re sober or partial to an alcoholic tipple, it’s important to drink your daily recommended water intake — which the NHS puts at 6 to 8 cups a day.
“Water helps to deliver nutrients to cells, keep our organs functions properly, prevents infections and keeps our joints lubricated,” Denise says. “So, do make sure you keep your water glass topped up!”.
If you are seriously struggling over the festive period with any aches or pains, do get in touch. Denise has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry and uses a range of osteopathic techniques such manipulation, acupuncture and electrotherapy, to get to the root cause of the problem.