Ah, Thanksgiving. What a great time to see family, stuff yourself silly, and think about ergonomics.
Wait, what? Ergonomics?
Yep, that’s right folks. Between those long hours spent sitting at the dinner table (and in the car and on the couch) and all of that repetitive fork to mouth motion, Thanksgiving can be just as much of a strain on your body as a day at the office. But not to fear. With the following 10 tips, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving in comfort and style. So, without further adieu, here is your 10 step guide to an ergonomically approved Thanksgiving holiday.
1. Properly Bend While Lifting Your Turkey
Let’s face it: turkeys can be heavy, clocking in at anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds. In fact, the world’s biggest domestic turkey weighed 86 pounds, which is probably more than your children weigh. That’s no big deal if you’ve been keeping up with your gym visits (especially Crossfit, as surely some enterprising franchise somewhere has used a turkey as a weight), but a big problem if you haven’t, as undeveloped muscles are sure to lead to bad form. To avoid injuring your back, make sure that the oven door is fully down, leaving you full room to manipulate. Stand as close as you can, keep your back as straight as possible and place your feet solidly on the ground. Then get a solid grip on the turkey (using potholders, please!) and lift from your legs, NOT your back. Make sure to have a counter clear so you can immediately set the turkey down. He-man grunt is suggested at this time.
2. Sit Up Straight While You Stuff Your Stomach
It’s not just Great Aunt Rose who thinks your posture is a problem; your digestive tract thinks so too. Turns out, all of that hunching folds your intestines in on themselves, which slows everything down. And the last thing you want while cramming your face with stuffing is to take up valuable real estate when you could be making room for more. So place a book on your head and sit up straight!
3. Use a Laptop Stand as a Cookbook Holder
Whether you cook from a paper cookbook, a laptop or a tablet, the last thing you want is to to hunch low to read, placing strain on your musculoskeletal system. Instead, balance that cookbook on a mobile laptop stand and enjoy hours of cooking without any of the neck craning. Your grandmother would be so proud!
4. Take a Break From Turkey Staring and Parade Watching
Listen, I know you just want that savory smelling turkey to finish cooking already, but you’ve got a good 3 to 7 hours to go. Staring at the turkey non-stop is bound to give you eye strain, especially if your oven glass is dirty. Taking a break to interact with your family or work on other kitchen chores will refocus your eyes elsewhere, preventing dry eye and headaches so you can better enjoy the fruits (or poultry) of your labor when the time comes. Taking breaks is also a good idea as you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as is doing a few calisthenics, which will get the blood flowing to your brain for even more scintillating conversation. Lunges, anyone?
5. Use an External Keyboard to Send Directions
No matter what, you’ll inevitably encounter a moment on Thanksgiving day that requires the sending of urgent emails. Maybe it’s that relative that somehow gets lost every year, or maybe you’ll discover you’ve forgotten something at the grocery store and need to send a last minute email. Whatever the reason, make sure you’ve got your laptop or desktop synced up with an ergonomic keyboard, so you can type those frantic missives while keeping your wrists and hands in the most ideal positions — even if those fingers are covered in gravy.
6. Bring an Inflatable Pillow
Not only is an inflatable pillow a great tool for providing lumbar support on those hard extra chairs you only bring out when you’ve got company, but they can also be handy for any tryptophan-induced naps. After all, when you crawl under the table with a full belly to sleep it off, you’ll want to ensure your neck has proper support.
7. Wear Comfy Shoes for Your Post-Thanksgiving Walk
Sure, you want to impress the whole family by wearing shoes so shiny you could comb your hair in the reflection (no, seriously, comb your hair before sitting at the table), but comfort is key on this day of indulgence. Post-Thanksgiving walks are often the only way to reduce the pain associated with an overly stuffed gut, and comfy shoes will ensure you can concentrate on that lovely crisp fall air rather than the pain in your pinched toes.
8. Practice Relaxation Exercises for Political Discussions
Everyone knows it’s bad etiquette to discuss politics at the Thanksgiving table, and yet, somehow it winds up happening every year. But getting stressed out about these conversations will only raise your blood pressure. Best to make like Carl from Family Matters and have a few calming techniques up your sleeve so that political digs slide right off of your back.
9. Do Finger Exercise to Prepare for Cheek Pinching
Is there a new baby in the family? Perhaps an adorable toddler niece or nephew? You know you’re going to want to pinch those cheeks. But if you’re out of practice, doing so can put serious strain on your joints or wrists, so get out those dumbbells (or toothbrush!) and put your wrists and hands through a Rocky-like preparation regimen. Don’t forget to play The Eye of the Tiger in the background.
10. Check Your Elbows at the Table
You’re going to be doing a lot of plate to mouth action, and you know what can happen with repeated motions: Repetitive Strain Injury (particularly if you’ve already got one in the works). Prevent stuffing-your-face pain by keeping your elbows level with the table while drinking and navigating your plate. If the turkey is tough, reduce the temptation to violently wrench your knife and fork. A gentle sawing may take longer, but your wrists will thank you.
Thanksgiving is a great time for connecting with family and consuming massive amounts of food. Don’t let bodily pain disrupt this delicious holiday. Practice your Thanksgiving ergonomics today and be in fighting shape come the big day.