The Holiday season is here, and you know what that means. You’re about to be running around to complete errands (shopping, etc.) at a feverous pace, all while fueling your body with sugary sprinkled treats. Then there’s the cocktails. Knowing what’s coming, you want to give your body the best possible shot at sustaining and thriving through the remaining days of December. Diet is beyond our scope, but we do have some helpful tips regarding your musculoskeletal system that will help you make it through the season with strength and vigor.
Four Tips to Getting Your Body Ready for the Holiday Season
I. Work the Core
Core fitness is the key to physically making it through the Holiday season in one piece. By getting into the gym (or physio facility) and focusing on core exercises you will set the table to greater strength and stability. You’ll be able to push through shopping mall crowds and avoid injuries that are commonly sustained in those hustle and bustle environments. To reiterate, core fitness is at the core of a physically fit Christmas.
II. Watch Your Step
The hustle of the Holiday season and associated rain, sleet, and snow set the stage of slips, trips, and falls, in addition to sprained ankles. And these are just the acute concerns to be worried about. When running errands and jaunting from one Holiday party to the next, you run the risk of developing a more underlying concern. This concern is accentuated when wearing improper footwear – which many of us do when dressing up for seasonal shindigs. You may be walking in an over-pronated manner (flat footed) and/or putting all kinds of excessive pressure on your feet. This (and more) can all lead up to an inflamed fascia causing sharp, stabbing pain at the heal and arch of the foot which can be debilitating and prevent you from your festivities. This chronic condition is known as plantar fasciitis.
Whether concerned about an acute or underlying chronic injury when stepping out and about for the Holidays, we encourage you to receive a gait analysis. The answers you may receive from the analysis can mitigate the risk of both acute and chronic injury. By adding custom orthotics to your Christmas stockings you will correct deficiencies in the way you stroll, and be on the way to a happier, healthier, and pain-free Holiday.
III. Understand the Food & Pain Connection
We know we stated in the introduction that we would not directly discuss diet. However, when there is a defined food to pain connection it’s worth exploring. There are certain foods that you are more likely to consume more of during the Holidays that may inflate your feelings of pain, even though the pain is connected to an injury of some sort. For example, did you know that sugar causes inflammation? What you do know, is that inflammation is directly correlated to increased chronic pain, so if you’re already experience chronic pain, you will want to ease up on the treats. In addition, lactose causes inflammation, so you may want to consider a dairy alternative for your hot chocolate or Peppermint Mocha. The latter Holiday beverage (espresso) is also worth paying close attention to. Caffeine stresses your adrenal glands. When your adrenal glands are stressed, skeletal muscles which indicate adrenal function (including the sartorius and gracilis) can be weakened, causing the sacro-iliac joint to subluxate posteriorly (toward the back) which may lead to lower back pain. On the flip side, caffeine can help mitigate pain, as chemicals commonly found in coffee bind to and block adenosine receptors. Caffeine also stimulates the release of dopamine and beta-endorphins, both of which are neurotransmitters that serve as a natural pain reliever. Essentially, if coffee-based Holiday beverages are your cup of tea, be sure to monitor your body’s response to pain accordingly. From there you can make adjustments.
Of course, if you simply refuse to resist Christmas goodies (we get it!) then we suggest tackling chronic pain head-on through physical therapy instead. This leads us to our next and most important tip.
IV. Get an Assessment from a Professional Physiotherapist
Everything that we have addressed above leads to the final, most practical, and effective tip to preparing your body for the Holidays – a head to toe assessment from your local physiotherapist. A professional will put you on the road to recovery and optimal performance. Even after one or two sessions you’ll give St. Nick a run for this money when it comes to getting things done through the month of December.
Ready to get physically ready for the Holidays? If you live in the Greater Vancouver area you can schedule your appointment at our Burnaby BC clinic as soon as you read this. Feel free to contact us with any questions before booking.