You’ve ordered the turkey, hung the stockings and wrapped the presents. Chances are you’re either feeling footsore or your neck is stiff; your back may be giving out alarming twinges as you decorate the tree or your shoulders can’t reach to hang the mistletoe; your knees might be making alarming sounds as you squat down to put warm ham in the oven or the sciatica could be protesting at sitting through the Christmas Downton Abbey special.
At any one time, a third of us are suffering from musculoskeletal pain – so what could you consider putting under the tree to help alleviate that aches and pains that are waiting for you in 2016? Here are our top tips for healing and pampering those painful problems.
• Do you need a new mattress?
The average lifespan of a mattress is about seven years, even with regular turning, though a top of the range model might last twice as long … and you won’t get one of these for under £1,000. You might baulk at spending that much on a mattress but ask yourself this: How much did you spend on your three-piece suite? – and how long do you spend sitting on it compared with the amount of time you spend in your bed?
• And how about a pillow to go with it?
One of the questions we’re asked most often is ‘which pillow should I use?’. The problem is there’s no easy answer to this … trial and error tends to lead to the best solution. There are hundreds of ‘orthopaedic’ pillows on the market and the best way to tell if it suits you is to use it. This can be expensive, which is why we keep a stock of pillows for (non-smoking) patients to try (smokers’ breath makes the pillow unusable after a fortnight’s trial). The rule is that a pillow should keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine – which will also depend on how hard your mattress is – and remember goose down may well be better than the most modern hi-tech materials.
• And when you’re awake?
The right office workstation can make all the difference. Your office chair should have adjustable height, tilt and a sprung back; it should have arms that are level with the top of your desk. Typically such a chair will set you back around £120 – and it costs even less to make sure your screen is at the right height and that you’re using the right hardware: a trackball can put so much less strain on your arms and shoulders than a mouse for half the price of a chiropractic treatment.
• Prevention is better than cure
We spend a lot of time discussing with patients how to prevent problems. We have masseuses in all our clinics to prevent the build-up of muscle tension and an Alexander Technique practitioner to remedy postural problems and we prescribe exercises to move fibrosis and improve stability.
• Put it right
If it hurts, it’s because something’s wrong. If it keeps on hurting, it’s because there’s too much wrong for your body to heal – which is when you need a helping chiropractic hand.