It’s a tough time of year to make the time to stay active and to remember to look after ourselves whilst getting through some mammoth to-do lists… SPEAR Physiotherapist’s Leanne and Sarah R bought together some top tips and exercises for us all to try at home to help look after ourselves and stay active during the Christmas season.
Ice and frost or how to keep yourself on your feet.
We get most of our ‘balance’ from the joints of your body telling your brain what position they are in, and for balance especially, the ankle joint has been shown to be one of the most important. While we can’t do much about the actual ice and frost making the paths and roads slippery; we can work to make sure our ankles are ticking along, telling our brains what position they are in, and help us correct if we go to fall… before we’re all the way down.
Progression 1: If you typically struggle with your balance and can find yourself feeling unsteady on your feet even when walking on stable ground, try this option with something nearby to hold onto if you go to lose your balance – or to keep hold of throughout if needed.
Progression 2: For the average person looking to improve their balance to above average levels. Try doing it facing yourself in a mirror, and focus on not just losing your balance, but keeping your hands on your hips, and your hips level with each other. Hold for as long as you can but aim for 30-60s at a time for a real challenge.
Progression 3: For the athletes out there, try doing progression 2 but standing on an unstable surface or try balancing on one foot with your eyes closed.
Lift with your hips.
We love to shower our families, or friends (or ourselves) with lovely gifts this time of year. Sometimes, these gifts and/or the packaging and decorations surrounding them can be heavy. Help keep your back healthy by lifting with your hips – these big muscles in our buttocks and the backs of our thighs are built for this, whereas our back muscles aren’t so much. Where possible, lift the really heavy stuff from waist height, medium weight stuff from the floor, and light stuff from overhead. When lifting, stand with one foot either side of it, bring your hips back and chest forward at the same time, THEN bend your knees to pick it up. Slide it up your legs, over your knees and thighs to lift it as close to your body as possible.
Muscle tension from the cold.
The cold that is now descending upon us tends to have the effect of making our muscles more tense – if you think about what happens when you step out into a chilly northerly wind, you think of your shoulders gathering up around your ears and of you shivering. While these are important for us to keep warm, that tension can cause pain and tightness around the neck and shoulders, which can really put a dampener on the festivities.
So, to help counteract this, don’t forget your scarf when you leave the house, wear multiple layers when out in the cold so you can chop and change based on how warm or cold you feel with what you’re doing. At the end of the day, think about getting a hot water bottle or wheat bag around your neck and shoulders, and doing a gentle neck stretch.
Top tips for staying active over the Christmas season.
Keeping active is also going to play a huge part in keeping you upright and motoring this season.
- Park and then walk when doing your shopping
- If you can, take the stairs in malls/shops etc rather than the lift or escalator
- Get out and enjoy the crisp, clear days with a walk with visiting family and friends
- Make time for yourself and any exercise routines you’ve worked so hard to establish this year – taking care of others is the word of the day, but we still need to take time for ourselves as well.
Any questions? Get in touch! And remember that SPEAR clinics are open between Christmas and New Year (except for public holidays). #teamSPEAR