Thanksgiving Dinner: Serve Up Turkey, Not Pain

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, families are anxiously planning their dinner menus. While dreaming about turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, some people forget about the aches and pains that can result from a full week or day of cooking.

Did you know that back pain is often a common side effect of cooking, especially when one is working in the kitchen all day? Just thinking about it is enough to make you sore! Imagine picking up a heavy 20 pound turkey to clean the bird and put it in the oven. It is common to hunch over when chopping and slicing, not to mention the hard work it takes to mash those potatoes. And good posture is often the last thing on a cook’s mind during the busy Thanksgiving feast.

Yet, no one wants to sit down to dinner feeling exhausted and sore from cooking improperly. It is important to take certain precautions in order to ensure you can enjoy your dinner – and the hard work that went into it – without feeling aches and pains.

Next time you cook, check the height of your kitchen counters. If you have to hunch, it may be too low. If you have to raise your arms uncomfortably, the counters are too high. Your cooking surface should be no more than a few inches below your hands to prevent strain to the muscles in your neck, shoulder and lower back. To solve the problem and alleviate pain, you can stack cutting boards on the counter or stand on a sturdy stool.

While cooking make sure you are standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back and knees soft. Wear very supportive shoes and look into getting a gel mat for your floor. This will help reduce pain that can be caused in the feet and knees which can further increase bad posture, leading to back and neck pain.

Remember to ask for help with the heavier lifting such as the turkey and large pots of boiling water. You will be less likely to strain your back or hurt yourself while cooking.

Make sure to take stretching breaks every hour to loosen up your muscles. This will help you to maintain your posture throughout the day by giving your muscles some time to recover. Also, most importantly, stay hydrated. It is very common to forget to drink water while ‘marathon cooking’ which is bad for your body. Make sure you are getting plenty of water to stay hydrated in a hot kitchen.

By using these tips you can concentrate on enjoying the perfect meal with your family and friends, rather than your back pain. That is something to be thankful for this holiday!

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