Delivering holiday cheer, hope, and of course Christmas presents to all the good boys and girls of the world is an enormous undertaking. As I was doing my last-minute shopping I started wondering about the physical demands of Santa’s job. Physical therapists develop the best treatment plans when they have a good understanding of the activity of a person’s daily life. In order to gain perspective on a client’s occupation, I ask clients to bring pictures of their work or sometimes I even make a visit to his or her workplace. This allows me to make elements of a job more ergonomic. Whether it be problem-solving with a client to alter the way a job is done or recommending equipment, we aim to decrease stress and strain to the body with an eye towards preventing injuries on the job or alleviating the pain of injuries already sustained. Although Santa isn’t my client, he could very well be one day based on pictures and stories about his work. I know it’s probably not possible to analyze Santa’s job at his workplace. Although, Santa, if you’re reading, I can be ready in a flash. This year in lieu of cookies, I am leaving Santa a few physical therapy tips to keep him moving and make his life a little more comfortable.
I thought it might be good to leave you a few physical therapy tips tonight to make your job a little less stressful on the body. With all that travelling, your back and feet surely must be sore. First, consider the seat of the sleigh. Get a supportive pillow for your back. This will maintain your back’s natural curve and promote a better posture. I’m sure the reindeers don’t always provide the smoothest of rides and landings, so be sure to use a seat cushion to dampen the jolts and vibrations that are stressful to your spine. Second, in order to reduce the swelling in your legs think about wearing compression garments. This will also help to prevent development of blood clots on those prolonged sleigh rides.
I know it’s tradition, but why are you using the chimney to get into the house? Trying to squeeze yourself and a large amount of presents into a dirty chimney isn’t ergonomic and climbing up a roof while carrying such a heavy item over your back is not recommended. Landing on the roof seems dangerous anyway. Why not have one of your magical elves open the front door for you? Just a thought.
Speaking of elves, I know they help you throughout the year to make presents. Consider taking a team with you on Christmas night. They can help to unpack presents, carry the heavy gifts, stuff stockings, and keep the reindeer in line. Many of my patients benefit from asking for help with the physical demands of household chores or even at work by getting the help of others. Ask them to break up the gifts into more manageable loads or smaller sacks. I know it’s inevitable that you will have heavier gifts to lift, so when you do, use good body mechanics by bending your knees to pick them up and ask the elves to help you.
Also, due to the repetitive nature of your job stuffing stockings and carrying objects, you are really setting yourself up for an overuse injury. Have you ever had elbow or shoulder pain after the big night? I’m sure there are tons of elves ready to help you with the lifting, carrying, and stuffing, so start asking!
Finally, We can’t deny that billions of cookies in one night is not good for your health. Not to mention increased belly fat is associated with a whole host of physical ailments. Also, excess weight places strain on your lower back. Have you thought about saving the cookies and giving them to others or better yet, asking for veggies and peanut butter or lower fat options? Many people depend on you Santa. I hope with these tips you’ll be able to deliver good cheer and presents for many many more years.
Wishing you a stress-free night,
Monique Serpas, PT