Family, food and festivities . . . the ingredients for great Thanksgiving memories! But, if you're not careful, these memories may turn into aches and pains.
As America gets ready to give thanks and kick-off the holiday season, the physical therapists at ATI Physical Therapy have some tips that can help keep you pain-free.
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"Activities such as standing too long while cooking, meal preparation, and lifting heavy objects like turkeys and boxes can cause back, shoulder and neck pain," says Tara Smith, physical therapist at ATI. "There are simple things that can be done to help decrease the effects of the added stress on our bodies."
While cooking, be sure to stand on a padded surface, and maintain even weight on each leg. If needed for comfort, use a stool to prop-up one foot, and give each leg a turn. It's best to stand when carving or chopping, so choose a workspace that is level with your forearms when elbows are bent at a 90° angle. Don't forget to take a break every 20-30 minutes and perform simple stretching exercises to loosen shoulder, back and neck muscles.
When it's time to get the turkey out of the oven, or grab dessert from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, lift with your knees, and avoid bending at the waist or twisting your trunk. Keep the load close to your midline (bellybutton), and your body. If you need to move any heavy objects, test the weight of the object first by pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy, ask for help.
In addition to muscle aches and pains, injuries to the hand are all too common during the holidays. From turkey carving to broken glass, the kitchen can be a dangerous place.
Heather Robinson, certified hand therapist with ATI Hand Therapy, says patients sometimes forget how sharp knives can be. "We often see finger and tendon injuries when patients try to cut a piece of bread in their hand, or catch a slice of meat under the knife. Always remember to use a cutting board, and keep your free hand away from the knife."
Keep your knife sharp, the handle dry and consider using an electric knife for ease with carving. Your carving surface should be dry to help prevent the item from slipping, and well-lit so you can see. Never carve towards yourself, and keep your free hand opposite of the side you are carving towards.
When it's time for the dreaded washing of the dishes, remember that wet, sudsy plates and glasses can be dangerous to your hands if dropped. If you get cut, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to help stop bleeding. Seek medical attention if bleeding doesn't stop after 15 minutes, or you notice tingling or numbness.
Unfortunately, as much as we try to avoid them, accidents do happen. If your aches and pains last more than a few days, visit any ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a Complimentary Injury Screening. ATI will address your concerns, evaluate your injury and provide you with options for continued care. Visit www.ATIpt.com for a location near you.
ATI Physical Therapy is a nationally recognized orthopedic rehabilitation provider, specializing in physical therapy, sports medicine, work conditioning/hardening, functional capacity assessments, aquatic health, hand therapy, and women's health. Founded in 1996, ATI began with one clinic in Willowbrook, Illinois, and has grown to over 190 clinics in seven states (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania). Known for exceptional results and innovative research-based programs, the motivating staff at ATI provides hands-on, personalized treatment plans in an upbeat and fun atmosphere.