As the holidays get into full swing, people from all walks of life deal with busy schedules, holiday events, and plenty of aches and pains. Physical therapists often hear patients complain about being sore because they weren’t able to get in their exercises, or they’re sore because of all the holiday traveling. While patients can’t do anything to prevent the pain of horrible holiday traffic and that one crazy family member, they can take some measures to prevent aches and pains and to increase wellness during the holiday season. Here are some helpful holiday wellness tips you can share with your physical therapy patients to help them survive the holidays with a smile.
1. Continue to Move and Stretch
With time spent traveling, holiday parties, and all that holiday shopping, it’s easy to get sedentary during the holidays. However, it’s important to continue moving and stretching. Encourage patients to take the time to walk around or do some stretching if they’re spending time at the airport. When driving, patients can stop regularly to get out and walk around. People often feel sore after all the holiday traveling, and this is because they spend too much time in one position. Moving around and stretching will reduce soreness and also help reduce the risk of developing blood clots.
2. Plan Ahead for Holiday Preparations
Spend a couple all-day sessions on the kitchen preparing food and you’re going to feel some pain after being on your feet all day. Patients who have preexisting injuries are even more likely to feel pain from aggravated injuries after marathon sessions in the kitchen or hours of wrapping gifts. Physical therapy patients can prevent this pain by planning ahead. Make special holiday foods in advance when possible. Break up gift wrapping into short sessions over several days.
3. Always Keep Your Core Tight
One of the best ways patients can reduce the strain on their body during the holidays is to make sure their core is always tight. Whether they are standing for long periods in the kitchen, traveling, or lifting items, keeping the core tight provides support for the body and reduces the strain and risk of injury.
4. Keep Up with Physical Therapy Exercises
Have you given your patients physical therapy exercises to do at home? If so, remind patients to keep up with those exercises throughout the holiday season. With all the hustle and bustle, patients often forget to do their physical therapy exercises, which means they lose ground and experience more pain during the holidays. Offer patient printouts with their exercises on them and encourage them to schedule a time for physical therapy exercises each day.
5. Don’t Disrupt Medication Regimens
Since routines often are disrupted throughout the holidays, it’s easy for patients to forget medications. Talk to your patients about their medication regiments and remind them not to disrupt these regimens during the holidays. Patients need to make sure they take enough medications with them if they’re traveling and remind them to order refills in advance.
6. Focus on Fun and Family Instead of Food
Over indulging during the holidays can result in weight gain, and weight gain can be a problem for physical therapy patients who have back, knee, and other injuries. Patients can avoid adding those extra pounds during the season by focusing on fun and family instead of food. While the holidays are often associated with food, taking the focus off food and celebrating with other exciting traditions with the family can prevent overeating. Filling up with salads and veggies before eating small amounts of holiday favorites can also reduce calorie intake, preventing weight gain.
7. Get Your Daily Sunlight to Improve Mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of people during the winter season, and this can make it difficult to enjoy the holiday season. One of the best ways to avoid SAD is to get a daily dose of sunlight. Encourage patients to spend time near a window or some time outdoors when it’s sunny, since the sunlight helps relieve SAD and stimulates the production of serotonin, which improves mood.
Everyone has a lot going on during the holidays, but patients who take the time to care for themselves will see improvement in their overall health. Help your physical therapy patients make the holidays a healthier time by encouraging them to follow all of these wellness tips during this special season.