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Tips For A Happy Body In The Festive Season

Some very practical festive advice on how to look after your body through the silly season from Lisa Vernon. Above all, as Lisa is known to say: ‘make good choices’.

With the festive season upon us it can be quite a busy time in our lives.

There are often a surplus of social gatherings with friends and family which can involve lots of food preparation, cooking and fastidiously cleaning the house. Or periods of not doing much.

It’s always a more enjoyable time of year if your body is feeling good, flexible and painfree too!

So that leads to the biggest nugget…

Lisa’s top festive tip is very simple

My best piece of advice to keep your body happy and painfree over the festive season is … to just keep moving!!

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of doing absolutely nothing at Christmas.

For short periods, doing nothing is quite nice. Even necessary.

(Editor’s note: particularly on Boxing Day for Day 1 of the Test).

However, if you have worked hard on keeping yourself moving, flexible, strong and painfree through the year, you also need to keep moving.

Walking is festive, social and free

We are really lucky in Adelaide and particularly in the Western suburbs. We have so many options to explore! You can stick to your suburb, walk along the Torrens, or enjoy the beach or the hills.

Better yet, if you are organising a catch-up with someone, why not suggest a walk with a destination for lunch or a coffee at a local cafe.

That way you’ve moved PLUS avoided any cooking or cleaning. Two birds, one stone.

Depending on your fitness level, aim for a 30 minute walk per day. If you can’t manage 30 minutes at one time, try 2x 15 minute walks.

Other nice options to keep our body moving that don’t cost anything are cycling and swimming.

Lisa’s top festive quote

On the topic of moving, one of my favourite sayings at the moment is ‘your best posture is your next posture’.

Whilst we all appreciate the importance of ‘good’ posture in sitting and standing, if you were to maintain this for an 8 hours day, you’d get stiff and tight as well.

So the most important thing for us is to move, and change our posture often. If you’re out socialising, stand and chat to someone, then sit with someone else.

Lisa’s top festive exercises

Finally, here are my favourite stretches.

Some of us will be doing a little more cooking and cleaning this festive season. Both these activities involve flexion (forward bending) of the spine.

Flexion that is repeated (like often happens with cleaning), or sustained (like sitting on the couch) can make us uncomfortable if we aren’t changing posture or moving in the opposite direction enough.

**Please be advised these stretches may not be appropriate for everyone (see below)

1. Neck Retraction

Neck retraction exercise - Adelaide West Physio + Pilates | Headache Clinic

Retraction is a great exercise to bring our neck into a neutral position. 

Setup – Sit or stand in an upright position 

Movement – Gently draw your chin in, while keeping your eyes fixed on something in front of you.

Tip – Make sure that you do not tip your head up or down as you do this exercise, it is a straight translation of your head backwards

2. Standing lumbar extension

Standing lumbar extension exercise - Adelaide West Physio + Pilates | Headache Clinic

Setup – Begin in a standing upright position with your hands resting on your hips.

Movement – Slowly arch your trunk backwards, keeping your knees straight. Work into stiffness or some discomfort, but it should start to feel better or easier as you do repetitions. Try 10 repetitions.

Tip – Make sure to maintain your balance during the exercise and do not bend your knees. This should feel good to do if you have been doing bending activities.

3. Lying on back, knees side to side

Lumbar rotation exercise - Adelaide West Physio + Pilates | Headache Clinic

Setup – Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor.

Movement – Keeping your back flat, slowly rotate your knees down towards the floor until you feel a stretch in your trunk and hold.

Tip – Make sure that your back and shoulders stay in contact with the floor.


4. Sidelying open book stretch

Open book stretch exercise - Adelaide West Physio + Pilates | Headache Clinic

Setup – Begin lying on your side with your legs bent at a 75 degree angle and your arms together straight in front of you on the ground.

Movement – Slide your top hand back and forth over your bottom hand 5 times, rotating your shoulders. Then, lift your top arm straight up and over to the floor on your other side.

Tip – Make sure to keep your knees together and only rotate your back and upper arm. Your hips should stay facing forward.

To learn more about Lisa, here is a link to her bio.

If you would like to speak with Lisa about your problem, you can organise an appointment to speak with her free of change by calling 8356 1000 or click on the button to book online.

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About the author

Russell Mackenzie
Russell Mackenzie
Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
Russell Mackenzie

Russell Mackenzie

Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
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