Julie (name changed) loved being outside and spending time with her family during Thanksgiving, but for the last 3 years she has been stuck at home cleaning up dinner while the rest of the family goes on their annual hike in the woods. On Black Friday, she wanted to shop for deals but knew she would likely end up sitting and waiting with the shopping cart. For years, chronic knee pain has bothered Julie, but she noticed it often seemed to get worse during the holidays, preventing her from spending time with her family.
The holidays bring traditions and celebrations, but can be physically demanding on the body, especially for those with chronic musculoskeletal pain. You may be moving or stretching in ways your body isn’t used to, or traveling and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. It’s important to take time for self-care during the holiday season by incorporating exercise therapy and movement routines to alleviate discomfort because movement is medicine.
Warm Up With Exercise Therapy
Warming up your body with low-intensity exercises, like your Hinge Health exercise therapy, can help prepare you to take on any physically demanding activities or holiday travel. Consistently engaging in movement, will help improve your body's resilience to new activities and make you stronger.
Change Positions Frequently
Do you dive into one long gift wrapping marathon on the living room floor? Or spend hours standing at the kitchen counter baking cookies? Spending time in prolonged positions can cause our pain system to react with feelings of tightness, achiness, and pain. One of our favorite sayings here at Hinge Health is “your next position is your best position.” What we mean is, it’s best to keep moving! Be conscious of how long you are sitting, bending, twisting, or standing in the same position, and take frequent breaks or change position to give your body some relief.
Make Exercise Part of the Fun
Shorter hours of daylight coupled with your long to-do list can leave you little time to exercise. Physical activity is important to help you reduce holiday stress, boost your mood, and turn down the pain alarm signal. Take advantage of holiday events in your city so you combine physical activity with something festive, or try a new activity in your own home. If you exercise outside, make sure you dress for the weather with layers of clothing, and supportive, slip resistant shoes. Here are some additional ways to fit in fitness:
- Explore your local zoo or other holiday light displays in your area
- Sign up for a seasonal 5k walk or run
- Turn on some holiday tunes and dance or jump on a mini trampoline
- Snow-themed exercise such as snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, or building a snowman
- Play active indoor or outdoor games
- Try a new exercise DVD or Youtube video
- Use some resistance bands while watching your favorite holiday movie
- Play board games with family and friends
Julie began the Hinge Health program earlier this year. Through exercise therapy, combined with 1-on-1 health coaching and education, she was able to overcome her knee pain. She thought traveling might make her knee pain flare up, so she brought her Hinge Health kit with her to visit family over Thanksgiving. It was easy to keep up with her exercise routine and some of her family members even joined in. This year, Julie confidently went on the hike with her family and was excited to go shopping without worrying about pain.
“I find myself more continually in a good mood, I feel so much better. I love to be outside and do things, and I feel confident that I can do these things again.”
It’s a busy and festive time of year. By prioritizing exercise therapy and physical activity, you can continue to feel your best and not let discomfort impact your holidays. Hinge Health helps people suffering from back and joint pain fit exercise therapy, one of the three pillars of best-practice care, into their schedules anytime, anywhere. To learn more about the three pillars and how they drive long-term outcomes, read the blog series:
About the Author
Nicole Henry is the Health Benefits Coordinator at Self-Insured Schools of California (SISC) where, under the oversight of the DEO, she is responsible for the daily operations of the health benefits department that provides service to over 400 school districts and 350,000 members. Nicole started her career at SISC in 2007 where she worked as an eligibility technician, an underwriter/data analyst, and an account manager. Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate student at West Texas A&M University where she is earning an MBA in Healthcare Management.