That special time of the year is upon us, and while it is made notable by fun festivities with family and friends, it also comes with an increased risk of accidents and injuries. There is numerous data on the topic, but we won’t bore you with a database of percentages and statistical quotes this time around. Instead, our clinic is taking to one of the most important documentary films in history – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. A scientific analysis of the film helps provide insight into (and uncovers) the hazards common to the holiday season. It also allows you to use the antagonized protagonist Clark Griswold as inspiration of what not to do so that you can hedge the risk of injury during the holidays, with a little help from your local physiotherapist for good measure.
5 Common Holiday Season Risks to Physical Health Clark Griswold Has Taught Us All to Prepare For
1. The Pitfalls (and Literal Falls) of Decorating
Believe it or not, studies show that a large number of Canadians suffer serious injuries while putting up Christmas lights and decor. The main reason for this, is falling. While you should take a page from Clark Griswold’s book of faults and take the necessary precautions (wear proper footwear and use a study ladder and spotter, etc) physiotherapy can also help prevent falls during the decorating portion of your holiday activities. Physical therapy can improve your gait, vestibular function, and core fitness to ensure better balance. Learn more about how physiotherapy can help keep you from falling and hurting yourself during holiday hijinks.
2. Playing Reindeer Games
Christmas vacation comes with an agenda chock full of fun family activities that typically include winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, and even tobogganing. The ladder is especially relevant if you consider Griswold’s over-waxed sledding incident of December 1989.
By understanding the risks of each activity, you can prepare for and thus prevent injury. Concussions, back/spine injury, ankle/knee sprains and fractures, and injuries to the hands, wrists, and fingers are all very common winter sport ailments you need to watch for. Remember to check the safety of equipment (snowboards, skis, skates, sleds, etc.) and wear appropriate protective gear (helmets, padding, etc.) before partaking and take note of the winter sport precautions laid out here by our physiotherapy clinic.
3. Holiday Home Exterior Maintenance
With guests coming by in droves you’ll be doing plenty of exterior prep (beyond decorating) to make your property presentable and safe. Given that most accidents occur in and around your very own property, you must shovel your driveway and all paths (sidewalks, etc.) leading to/from your home, and apply a healthy coating of ice-melt to prevent ice and frost. Since these activities themselves open you up to risk of injury, be sure to wear appropriate footwear (with firm grips) and be aware of the lower back and neck injuries that are commonly sustained when shoveling snow. Follow our tips to safer snow shoveling here. Also exercise caution by wearing safety equipment and using proper physical form when trimming trees and landscaping as these activities open you up to injury risk too.
4. Winter Driving Hazards
While ideally you’d be able to enjoy the comforts of your fireplace (real or Netflix version) during the cold winter weather the holidays have you driving to/from the mall, office parties, and to run a hoard of errands, Christmas tree securement included. Because of this it’s important to understand that the risk of a motor vehicle accident in BC increases exponentially in the winter.
Be sure to winterize your vehicle, drive defensively without distraction (put away your smartphone) and be courteous of other drivers even (or especially) if they don’t exercise the same. If you do end up in a fender bender and are injured, follow-up with a physiotherapy clinic that is well known for ICBC chiropractic treatment so that you can get back to enjoying the holidays as pain free as possible.
5. Impact of Holiday Season Stress on Physical Health and Pain
Anxiety is one word Clark Griswold knows all too well when it comes to being a host for the holidays. It’s a fact that stress and depression reach annual highs during the season, and it’s also a fact that these emotional ailments have a direct and indirect impact on physical pain and function, and vice versa. Studies have shown that anxiety affects the systemic systems throughout the body, including the cardiopulmonary system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal system, neurologic system, general/multiple system involvement. Given that systemic system ailments can be treated with physiotherapy, you can see how the discipline can be used to complement any emotional support you may need to seek at this time of the year. Learn more about how physiotherapy can be used to treat anxiety and stress through the holidays, so that you don’t have to kick the in-laws out of the house to get through it.
Take the reigns and demand a special bonus this holiday season by giving yourself the gift of physiotherapy. If you live in the Greater Vancouver BC area, schedule a consultation with our Burnaby clinic at your earliest convenience.