4 Turn-key Turkey Tips to Stay Safe Through the Holiday
As fall comes to an end, an impending winterly frost and frigid times ahead are briefly thawed one last time by the warmth of our open hearts surrounded by family & friends. While Aunt Mary’s stuffing may be hit-or-miss, dad thinks “third time’s the charm” with the deep fryer, and you’re struggling to bond with Suzie’s new boyfriend (surely he can find something to talk about besides weather, right?)—Thanksgiving is a special, sacred time of the year.
While novel, Thanksgiving can also be a time of catastrophe if you’re not careful. In the interest of making it through this treacherous day, here are the four most common Thanksgiving-related injuries and what you can do to prevent them:
1) Knife Safety – Slice the pie, not your thigh!
While some may possess Samurai swordsmanship, many of us seldom draw a blade from its sheath. That weird hunk of wood with too many knives is just a decoration, right? Now—unless Gordan Ramsey is a close friend, chances are you’re mixing those sharp blades of glory with the chaos of less-than-professional sous-chefs running amuck in your kitchen.
Every year, Emergency Rooms see too many knife-related injuries. From mild lacerations to severe tendon or nerve damage, please keep the blade pointed at food versus family.
In a worst case scenario, lacerations causing tendon or nerve damage may require extensive medical treatment. If you notice difficulty moving or bending fingers or have any persistent numbness or tingling in your hands after a cut, it’s time to see a hand surgeon. Your physician may order occupational or physical therapy with specific therapeutic techniques such as myofascial release or nerve gliding to restore proper mobility in your hands.
How to Avoid
When cutting, be sure to use a freshly sharpened knife as dull knives require more force and give less control. Also, try to make others in the kitchen aware of where the knives are and let them know before you start cutting. Last, try to restrain from any pre-dinner wine if you plan on being part of your Kitchen Impossible recital. Yes, you can handle the in-laws without a little Pinot Grigio—we promise!
2) Travel-related Injuries – Have a nice trip, but don’t fall!
While COVID may still pose an obstacle for some, many plan to travel this week. Whether you’re riding the gravy train to relatives afar or taking a short turkey trot, travel may pose some risk to your health if you don’t keep a few important things in mind.
While unfortunate, the National Safety Council reports increased alcohol-related car accidents over the course of most major holidays and Thanksgiving is no exception.
Vehicle-related injuries can be very serious, often causing a whiplash in the cervical spine (neck). Treating such injuries takes a lot of time and can be quite painful. After a thorough examination by a physician, a physical therapist may utilize a variety of treatment methods including gentle medical massage, myofascial release, therapeutic exercise, cupping, or electrical stimulation to slowly heal damaged tissue between the cervical vertebrae.
How to Avoid
While our local Loves Park Police Department does a wonderful job working tirelessly to keep our streets safe, with increased holiday traffic combined with the possibility of an impaired driver, please proceed with increased caution if you plan on driving today.
3) Sports Injuries – Remember—it’s just a game!
As the sound of sizzling sauces and smell of dream-worthy drumsticks fill the house, outside the kitchen (ideally), uncle Fred, two of your brothers, and grandpa clean the dust off the old football. Before you know it—with the ambition of Tom Brady and the agility of Mr. Rogers after a wonderful day in the neighborhood—the boys are all-in for a game of ‘let’s twist an ankle’. Hike!
Sports injuries are suffered by non-athletes as well as the professionals. Being a little reckless can lead to slips or falls causing various injuries to the tendons and connective ligaments holding our joints together (such as a tear in the ACL, hamstring, etc.). Overexertion can lead to worsening conditions such as sciatica or underlying back pain (such as pain from an intervertebral disc injury).
How to Avoid
Before you show the kids how good you were at football back in high school, take some extra time to warm up and stretch those muscles. If your aches and pains last more than a few days, it’s time to see a qualified sports medicine therapist.
4) Chronic Conditions – A real pain in the neck!
We’ve saved the best for last. For those who suffer from chronic back, neck, or joint pain, picking up a heavy turkey and spending countless hours on your feet can be quite taxing. Not everyone’s Thanksgiving job is as easy as Al Roker’s.
One of the most common causes of injury that we find at our clinic start with lifting heavy objects, spending too long on your feet, or using poor posture. Leaning over a sink or counter, moving heavy pots & pans, and using otherwise unused muscle groups can easily aggravate an underlying chronic pain.
Through the years, our therapy staff have treated many post-Thanksgiving strains and pains.
How to Avoid
First and foremost, be mindful of your limits and abilities; be sure to include multiple rest breaks. Everyone has their own unique limit of endurance before their muscles fatigue. When your muscles reach fatigue, the body starts to compensate by letting other muscle groups take over. When taking these breaks, don’t forget to stretch as well as take some long, deep breaths. “Breath controls the mind”, says Chris Scott, Founder & President of CSW. “And the mind controls the body” he adds.
Also, be mindful of your posture. When you lift your pans, bend your knees instead of your back—the same idea applies when you lean over to open the oven. Also, when lifting pans at counter-height, try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Last but not least, ask for help to lighten your load!
You don’t need to hurt yourself this Thanksgiving to enjoy the benefit of a massage or physical therapy. But if you do, we are here to help!