It’s here! That wonderful time of year when you might be shopping till you drop, lugging home a Christmas tree, shoveling show or driving long distances to see family. It’s fun, but also stressful and hard on the body. Our gift to you is some expert advice on how to use ergonomics to take the hurt out of the holidays.
If you find yourself standing in the kitchen for hours baking cookies or preparing a big holiday meal, make sure to perform tasks on a surface with a comfortable working height, about 5 inches lower than your elbow, and bring the task close to your body to prevent muscle strains.
66% of caregivers report musculoskeletal pain, with the most impacted areas of the body being the hands, neck, shoulders, and back. When carrying your child, focus on maintaining a neutral wrist and hand position, or use a wrap or carrier, and avoid awkwardly lugging around a car seat.
No matter what you’re lifting, be sure to follow proper lifting technique. Keep a wide base of support, squat down, bend at your hips and knees only (not your back), and slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees. Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
Vehicle seats aren’t necessarily designed for our comfort and driving for hours can be hard on your body. Take time to adjust your seat so your knees are as close to 90 degrees as possible and you can easily reach the steering wheel, pedals and other controls. Adjust your side and rearview mirrors so you can see without twisting or craning your neck.
It’s also the season to stand in endless lines, as the post office and stores are busy this time of year. When forced to stand for a long time, make sure to distribute your body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of your feet. Focus on holding your stomach muscles in and keep your knees slightly bent. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders back. If you catch yourself slumping, just reset – your body will appreciate the effort.
Those of us who live in states with wintery climates know to fear snow season. Make sure to take care of yourself while shoveling snow by keeping your feet hip-width distance apart with your weight on your front foot close to the shovel. When lifting, breathe in, bend your knees (not your back), tighten your stomach muscles, and lift with your legs while you shift your weight to your back foot.