Have Yourself a Well-Adjusted Holiday

By Martha Michael

Safe Holiday Decorating

If you’ve seen the memes on Pinterest showing Santa leaning over, stuck in position, or a snowman draped over someone’s neck as a cold compress, you’ve had some laughs over the need for chiropractic care during the holiday season.

What isn’t so funny, however, is the degree of “misalignment” (joint restriction) that occurs from the hustle and bustle of the holidays when you participate in traditions and activities your body isn’t doing on a regular basis. It’s the reason you don’t want to abandon healthy routines over the holidays, such as visits to your chiropractor.

Creating Hearth and Home

Preparing for holiday guests with a big blazing fire involves stocking up on wood and creating that traditional atmosphere with a clean chimney. Whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a stove that’s fueled by wood or pellets, there is more than one reason you should prepare it for use this season by eliminating debris left over from last year. It improves the air you breathe when it burns, and it reduces allergens caused by ashes and burnt wood fibers.

Unless you have an ash vacuum, you ought to resist the desire to pull out the Hoover and suck up the remains of last year’s yule log. Your typical household vacuum isn’t created to handle heat and it poses a fire risk.

Be sure the ashes are cool, no matter who cleans the fireplace for you, says an article in The Spruce.

“For starters, it will melt the rubber/plastics in the hose and dirt bin construction and could even start a fire within your vacuum,” the article says. “The stove needs to be unused for at least 12 hours, but 24 is better.”

Even clean ash or Sheetrock dust can damage your machine because particles get into the motor.

But there are more important inner workings to protect in the process -- your own. Excessive bending over while you lean into your fireplace can cause damage to your spine or, at the very least, create restricted joints that need treatment.

Leaning over is one of the biggest causes of back pain. Even someone who’s limber -- who can bend over the front and place their palms on the floor with straight legs -- can twist or tweak his/her back when leaning in during the cleaning project.

You don’t want to add back injuries to your holiday traditions. It can be extremely debilitating and put a damper on your other holiday activities.

Toys in the Attic

You can’t fully decorate without bringing down a dozen bins from the attic with the wreaths, angels and Santas you set up every year.

Even just hanging the stockings and setting up the train set can be too taxing if it involves hauling heavy boxes around the house.

If you climb a ladder to get up to the attic, the perilous possibilities begin right away. According to the National Safety Council, you first want to be sure you have the right ladder to do the job.

The non-profit organization has several suggestions for anyone planning to climb a ladder for a household project:

  • Always keep three points of contact with the ladder.
  • Face the ladder and grip the rungs.
  • Be sure the ladder extends all the way to the top.
  • Don’t climb while carrying tools.
  • Don’t overreach.
  • Only allow one person on the ladder at a time.

Greenlighting It

If you live in a multi-story home, you may want to leave twinkle light installation to the experts. A fall from an upper story can be fatal, a tragedy that can be avoided by not taking the risk. But depending on where you land, there are a lot of painful possibilities from injuries that can result, as well.

An article in USA Today says that an estimated 50 percent of people who fall from four-story buildings die, and at seven stories, the rate of death goes up to 90 percent. Falling more than 30 feet makes it more likely you’ll injure your spleen, liver and lungs or fracture your ribs, while a 20-foot fall can cause head injuries.

But if it’s a one-story house and you take a reasonable level of safety precautions, be aware that your body might not be used to reaching and twisting upward to hook the lights to your eaves.

The shoulder is the most commonly injured joint, says an article on WebMD, because it moves nearly every time your body does. You need healthy shoulder joints to maintain a broad range of motion so you can lift from below and reach for things above your head.

Stretching before an activity such as hanging lights is a good preventative technique. And if you’re getting sore, don’t ignore it -- take a break before resuming the project.

If you have a routine of chiropractic care, your joints will be healthier to begin with, making movements easier while minimizing your pain. It's a way to maximize your chance of a happy holiday without the presence of candy cane memes and reindeer games.

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