December is a month that many Australians associate with the outdoors. A lot of us enjoy extended holidays to spend time with the family, and the weather is perfect for a game of backyard cricket or a day at the beach.

When spending time with the littlest members of our families, we can get a bit caught up in their youthful excitement and forget about how our bodies physically change with time despite enthusiastic intensions.

This combined with a few too many glasses of ‘merriment’ can be a dangerous mix and may be why the Australian Medical Association (AMA) said of Christmas: “’tis the season for increased injuries”.

The AMA’s President, Tony Bartone, says that a lot of injuries that occur during the Christmas-New Year period are preventable.

“The festive period is the time of year when people tend to participate in more leisure and sporting activities, consume more alcohol, and take more risks than they normally would.”

Chatting with some of our SportsCare and Physiotherapy staff, we noted that some unique injuries seen at this time of year include:

  • Falls off scooters and skateboards
  • Surfing injuries
  • Super soaker related injuries
  • ITB/knee pain
  • New Year’s resolutions related to exercise – people going too hard too soon
  • Tightness around the hips and back from sustained periods of sitting while travelling.

With this in mind, we wanted to highlight some of the more high-risk activities people take part in over the festive period, and how to put the right measures in place to prevent injury.

Take care when you’re using a ladder

Whether you’re putting decorations up around your home or retrieving the footy from the roof, you should ensure another adult is there to steady the ladder from the base. If you’re under the influence of alcohol, you should put off any work that needs a ladder until you’re in a more reliable state of mind.

Consider the risks before jumping on your kid’s new toy

It might be tempting to see if you can still pull off a rad kickflip but take some time to consider your current health before trying out your kid’s new skateboard. The impact of a fall can result in hand injuries such as a fractured scaphoid or radius that can be very debilitating for everyone, including office workers who use their hands all day.

Barefoot walking

Over the warmer months, we see changes in footwear (or wearing none at all) and walking on different terrains such as sand on the beach. This leads to changes in load through the lower limbs and can lead to an overloading injury such as tendinitis or joint irritation. A common injury from change in footwear and increased load is plantar fasciitis. Some tips to prevent plantar fasciitis are:

  • Wear supportive footwear such as joggers
  • Avoid wearing thongs/sandals for longer distance walking
  • Massage the soul of the foot with a firm ball
  • Stretch your calf muscles.

These are just a few general tips you should keep in mind these holidays to avoid the most common preventable injuries. If you have specific questions about how to best care for your body, keeping in mind all your unique considerations such as past injuries and health concerns, you should speak with your SportsCare physiotherapist.

Merry Christmas everyone, and have a safe and restful New Year.

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