With the holiday season underway and increasing the tempo of daily demands, it is important to your good health to observe some simple guidelines to reduce the stress and strain of this busy time. This is especially important in light of the added concerns many of us our feeling individually and collectively with the shifts in the world economy and global health concerns. It may be especially important to slow down, recognize the need to approach activities and interruptions with a little more patience, and to plan ahead with the intention to reduce the stress of last minute efforts. Make a point during this holiday season to connect and communicate with those around you, and to share special moments with your friends and loved ones.
As many traditional holiday observances include special gatherings for meals, you can start by taking extra care of yourself, your friends and your family at the dinner table. Taking care in your food choices will help keep the quality of your nutritional intake at healthy levels. The quantity of your intake also makes a big difference. Have you ever filled yourself with great holiday food but found yourself leaving the table in distress? The process of making healthy choices in both quality and quantity may help prevent an unhealthy scenario as you make your way through this holiday season.
“A bulging stomach can put pressure on your body’s support systems, including your spine and spinal nerves,” cautions Dr. Gary L. Walsemann, ICA president. “Every extra pound in the abdominal region could generate 10 pounds more stress on the lower back. This stress can last a short time, such as just after eating a heavy meal or lifting a package improperly. It may also become chronic, as heavy eating during the holidays may lead to weight gain, and carrying extra pounds can put added strain on the supporting structures of the spine and nervous system.”
Additional weight can force the pelvis and torso to shift and cause changes in spinal balance, leading to spinal misalignments (vertebral subluxations) and malfunctions in the entire body, explains Dr. Walsemann. ICA suggests eating in moderation and taking at least a 15-20 minute walk after a big meal to ease discomfort and burn a few calories. Fitness research findings indicate you can burn up to 100 calories in a 30-minute walk.
ICA has prepared a series of health tips to help protect your spinal health and support your general health over the holidays:
- Lift carefully and consciously. When lifting, whether it involves packages, firewood, your frozen holiday turkey or other items, remember the prompt “lift with your legs, not your back”. Rather than flexing forward and pulling back and up as you lift, maintain a slight arch in your lower back and bend at the knees before straightening up your legs to stand up, with the object held close to your body. That way, the lifting is done primarily with the strong muscles of the legs supporting the load close to the body’s center of gravity.
- When standing for extended periods, whether waiting in line or cooking, elevate one foot and set on raised surface--a curb, cabinet shelf, foot rest or stacked books, depending on where you are standing. Alternately elevating each foot relieves tired back and leg muscles and shifts postural patterns, which helps prevent positional strain and faulty posture habits that can lead to abnormal spinal stress.
- When seated and when traveling by car or plane, place a pillow or folded towel behind the small of the back to help maintain the arch in your lower back and support the rest of the body properly. Slouching places unnecessary pressure on the discs and joint structures of the spine, adding to micro-trauma and fatigue whether slumping on a couch or hunched in a moving vehicle.
- In addition to fastening your seat belt for car trips, adjust your headrest to align with your head, at least up to ear level. This is important to support and protect the head and neck in the unfortunate event of a sudden stop.
- Get sufficient rest! Many health problems that occur with the holidays are triggered or intensified by fatigue. By simply taking small breaks and getting adequate rest, you can help prevent structural strain, emotional imbalance, and cognitive fatigue, and a range of general health problems.
- Don’t wait until you are hurting to see your doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments can keep you going at your peak and help you get extra enjoyment from the holiday season.