Can you believe it's almost Christmas? And what a year it's been.
Regardless of how things pan out this is the time to shrug off the strain of the last few months and relax as best we can. If the festivities are confined to home with our nearest and dearest then we shall make the most of it!
We’ll have boxes to dig out of the loft, lights to string up and no doubt presents to wrap! Pain and injury result from poor lifting and carrying techniques, and they can be treated, but today we’re going to look at prevention! After all, who wants a trip to A&E over Christmas?
So, before you tackle the Christmas decorations, make yourself a cuppa, grab a mince pie and settle down and read my quick guide to enjoying the season safely.
This doesn’t just apply to the workplace, though wouldn’t it be great if we could all benefit from a spot of manual handling training? In lieu of an occupational training course I’ve cobbled together some excellent hints and tips that will keep you in fine fettle for the festivities.
First of all, let’s clear up what manual handling actually IS. In simple terms, it’s the movement of items by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling.
Christmas requires a LOT of shifting, lifting and delving! We start with the loft and the removal of many boxes, large and small. That in itself is a hazard, especially if you don’t have an extra pair of hands to lighten the load.
Let’s work to eliminate pain at Christmas by remembering T.I.L.E.
Task - What will you be doing? Pushing? Pulling? Lifting? Carrying?
Individual - What is your capability? Remember, this differs depending on the individual. Be honest with yourself!
Load - How heavy is the object you're moving? What shape is it? How big is it?
Environment - Where are you? Is it clear of clutter? Easy to slide? If it’s cold have you warmed up? Who is there to lend a hand?
There we have it, a simple risk assessment to keep yourself safe.
When planning your Christmas shopping, consider the following:
● Can it be split into two or more visits?
● Make a list and don’t deviate! We’re all tempted by the special offers but your back won’t thank you for the extra bags.
● It should be a team effort - many hands make light work!
● Get helping loading your car - don’t struggle to carry multiple bags at one time. If you’ve given yourself enough time you won’t need to.
We then have the massive bird (or veggie option of choice) to prepare and place in the oven on the big day.
Have you ever considered the damage you could be doing to yourself? Christmas day is pretty stressful for those of us stuck in the kitchen so proper manual handling can slip way down the list of priorities.
● Keep your feet wide apart
● Be aware of the best lifting technique for you and respect what your body is telling you. Everyone should lift appropriately for their body and state of health or injury.
● Maintain the natural curve of your spine
Staying Safe when the Temperature Drops
Our winters may be getting warmer but we still have the odd freezing cold day where a walk outside can quickly turn into a trip on the ice! My top tip is this: take your time. It’s as simple as that. Here are some others to consider:
● Keep your centre of gravity over your support leg
● Remove your hands from your pockets to maintain balance
● If you struggle with your balance then try this exercise:
○ Stand alongside a chair, lightly holding on to it with your left or right hand.
○ Lift your left leg, keeping your hips level and a slight bend in the opposite leg
○ Gently place your foot back on the floor
○ Hold the lift for a few seconds
○ Repeat this exercise with your other leg
Keep on Moving
It’s tempting to collapse on the sofa after a busy few days shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, eating and socialising.
And yes, I wholeheartedly agree that a rest is needed after all of that effort! But after a well-earned period of relaxation a bracing daily walk in the fresh air will do body and mind the world of good. If you can’t manage a stroll outdoors then simply moving once every thirty minutes or so will prevent your muscles from seizing up.
I hope this quick run-through has provided some practical food for thought. A little extra thought will keep you fit and healthy and able to make the most of this wonderful time of year! A very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year to you all.