Avoiding Xmas Injuries

With the festive party season in full swing and holidays just around the corner, Physios are urging everyone to take extra caution, to stay safe, injury-free and happy this Christmas. The best Christmas present you can give yourself and your family is good health.

Physiotherapists see many common musculoskeletal conditions occurring over the Christmas break as people tend to push their bodies. Whether it’s spraining your ankle in high heels at a Christmas party, a musculoskeletal injury from an intense run along the beach after months of inactivity, or low back pain from driving for long distances or lying poorly on the couch watching the Boxing Day Test, there are a range of injuries to watch out for this season. In order to enjoy a healthy and injury-free holiday, we encourage you to focus on your health, both physically and mentally.

Avoid sitting for long periods.

The holiday season can be a time where many of us spend time lying on the couch recovering from a large Christmas lunch or spend it driving long distances to holiday destinations. Physical inactivity or low levels of physical activity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Avoid sitting in one spot for more than 30 minutes without a short break. Get up and move about for at least two minutes every 20-30 minutes. Regular changes in posture have been shown to improve comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

Buy gifts that encourage physical activity.

This Christmas, rather than getting your kids an iPod, consider a present like a cricket bat or a netball that will encourage physical activity and ultimately lead to better lifestyle choices in the long run. Active Healthy Kids Australia’s Report Card on Physical Activity for Children has identified that worldwide, children’s fitness has been declining at the rate of 3% to 5% per decade since 1970, with Australian kids now in the bottom third of the world in fitness and inactivity.

Get active.

Getting a little more physical activity into your day doesn’t have to be a chore. Dust off the bicycles and go for a ride, plan a bushwalk or simply limit your couch time get up and get moving. If unsure what physical activity is right for you or your child’s age and experience, your physiotherapist can assess physical and motor development and suggest appropriate options.

Start slowly and build up.

To avoid any injuries from getting out and active, it’s best to start slowly and gradually build up.

Don’t ignore the pain.

If you do injure yourself over the holidays, don’t ignore the pain, please see one of our Physiotherapists that are highly qualified and trained to assess and treat all sorts of injuries and will help you get back on the beach again.

Over the years we have definitely seen a growing trend of Christmas injuries We have seen everything from drunken falls, dad unsuccessfully testing the kids’ new bikes or skateboards, and back and neck pain from long car trips. The following information highlights some of the risks during the xmas period and how to stay healthy and out of the emergency department:

A cocktail of excitement, stress, tiredness and alcohol can create unexpected hazards in the home at Christmas. During Christmas, your home is likely to be full of people and, in the excitement, accidents can easily happen. The home should be as safe as necessary, rather than as safe as possible. With a little more care and forward planning, most accidents can be avoided.


Hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives make the kitchen one of the most dangerous places during the holiday. The Christmas meal is probably the biggest meal most families cook all year. It needs careful planning to avoid injuries. Try to keep other people (especially children) out of the kitchen. Avoid alcohol until you’ve finished cooking, and wipe up spills as soon as they happen, so that people don’t slip.


Clutter, alcohol and tiredness make the stairs an accident hotspot during Christmas. It’s common to fall down steps or stairs after drinking. Keep the stairs well lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests who could be going up to the bathroom during the night.


Typical Christmas Day accidents include parents accidentally stabbing themselves with scissors, which they’ve used to assemble toys, instead of using a screwdriver. People often cut themselves with knives when they’re opening presents too quickly. People also trip over toys and electric cables while rushing to try their new computers and other appliances. Don’t rush, take time to enjoy the moment. Have a screwdriver ready for toys that are screwed into packaging. Clear up the packaging and wrapping paper as you go along, and remember to recycle.


Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. The combination of drink, relatives, lack of sleep and the stress of Christmas shopping can be too much for some people. Try to find some time alone, even if it’s only to have a relaxing bath. Learn to say no to the demands of relatives.


Apart from the risks to your own health, alcohol can be the chief mischief maker when it comes to accidents. Both in cars and as pedestrians party goers are more at risk. It reduces your risk awareness. Alcohol can make people relax so much that they don’t think about everyday risks and do regrettable things !

On top of these important points it is also vital to remember that you need to ease into physical activity if you have been quite sedentary in recent months. We have often seen that once the weather is warm and the holidays come around that people seem to believe they are bulletproof, even though sitting on the couch or office chair for months hasn’t left you in good shape.

It is quite common to see people go on holidays and play tennis, ride a bike, go for a swim and finish off with a surf or a hit of golf all in the one day. However, if the body is unprepared it can be a rude shock to the system and often lead to pain and injury. Some important points to remember are stretch regularly, wear suitable supportive footwear, gradually progress your activity levels or training to suit your ability and be prepared for some muscle soreness when you first get going. .

Most of all, enjoy the fantastic weather and beautiful surrounds that we are spoilt with here in Adelaide.

The problems of deconditioning

For those of our community that are generally very active, Christmas and new year brings a different set of problems

At this time of year many people have already started either their pre-season training (for winter sports) or are in full training for their summer sports (think tennis, cricket, sailing etc).

Thought needs to be put into avoiding the de-conditioning associated with changing training times over the Christmas break. The other aspect that needs to be considered after a period of reduced training is the injury risk this poses once you re-commence training.

Avoiding de-conditioning

De-Conditioning refers to the loss of fitness associated with a reduction in exercise. This can occur with reducing from your normal 4-5 training sessions per week back to only once a week. This can have an effect really quickly, and make it harder to get back into normal training once it resumes. The tip here – YOU MUST KEEP ACTIVE.

If you’re holidaying, choose an active holiday such as going to the beach and surfing or snorkelling or somewhere where you can go for long walks and keep the body moving.

If you’re staying around home – schedule in some exercise time .Three sessions of 30-45 minutes won’t put a big dent on your “break” from training, but will help a lot once you return.

Then, when it comes to Christmas food remember moderation. Enjoy, but try to stick to some form of portion control.

The other thing to consider is alcohol intake. There are also many “dead” calories both alcohol and in soft drink, and a small change here to a “diet” alternative could help a lot when it comes to reducing weight gain over Christmas time.

Increased injury risk

Our bodies adapt to what we do .Stopping training over Christmas/New Year,can mean our bodies lose a lot of the adaptation to training that they have developed in the weeks and months of training leading into the break. This can be a significant risk for injury when returning to training if you jump straight back into the training load you had before the break. The types of injuries that can occur are mainly our overload injuries, such as groin pain in running/field sports, and stress fractures in other sports (such as rowing).

If possible, in the modified training that you are able to do over the holidays, try to incorporate some modality of exercise that stresses the body parts most commonly used in your sport. For running/field based sports this is probably quite fine to keep running – but for other sports like rowing, this may mean keeping the load on the upper body with alternative forms of exercise such as swimming or upper body weights.

Then, when resuming after a break, try to ensure a gradual, planned program back into full activity over a week or so to avoid a spike in training load after a break. This will help to reduce the risk of these overload or stress related injuries.

Try to follow the tips above to avoid injuries both at the time of festive activities and when you return to your regular training program.

Should you suffer any musculoskeletal injuries please contact us and one of our experienced Physios will be sure to look after you.

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