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According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 6000 people will be hospitalised on Christmas Day. Not only that, but during the twelve days of Christmas, over 80,000 people will visit A&E. The nature of the injuries that take place and their causes are many and varied, but there are steps that we can take in order to prevent certain accidents happening. For instance, chefs should know the correct procedure for lifting 24kg turkeys and heavy presents should be handled with care. Simple preventative measures will ensure that you are not one of the 1000 people injured every year by dressing the Christmas tree.

For example, Joanne hurt her back when she was putting the lights on her Christmas tree. Indeed, awkward tasks which involve stretching and leaning precariously are notorious for causing back injuries.

‘I pulled it, I felt it go, but I'd nearly finished,’ said Joanne, ‘so I carried on!’ Joanne's back was sore throughout Christmas and into the New Year. Unable to put up with the pain, when January arrived she went to her GP. Over the following weeks and months, Joanne had a course of physiotherapy, changed her pillow and mattress, her office chair and her car seat, but nothing helped.

As Osteopath Mandy Redmond explains, Joanne did a lot of gymnastics when she was younger, but as a busy working mum she doesn't have time to keep this up. This means that she is still very flexible, but without the muscle control that gymnastics gives. Added to this she had scar tissue from an epidural which increased her back's vulnerability.

Joanne appreciated the holistic approach to the pain: ‘Osteopaths are very good at uncovering things that you don't think are relevant, and get you thinking about things differently.’

While stretching forward to decorate the Christmas tree, Joanne had strained some ligaments in her pelvis. Treatment involved reducing the pressure on the pelvic ligaments to allow them to heal, and working on the scar tissue. This was followed by exercise to develop muscles to support her back.

Joanne had a total of eight treatments over two and a half months. ‘It's been fabulous. My back is fine now, but I wouldn't hesitate to book in again or recommend osteopathy to someone else. It's been great.’

Festive tips from osteopaths to help keep the back healthy and the individual pain free:

1) Don’t just look after the hangover. Your body needs lots of water too. Part of the stiffness and ache of your body the day after drinking is due to the joints and muscles being dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water in between glasses of champagne will look after you back as well as your head.

2) ‘Cocktail Party Backs’ are all too common – ensure that both feet are on the ground and weight is distributed evenly. Leaning to one side or standing on one leg are a sure-fire way to cause problems with discs, especially if you suffer from back pain already.

3) Don’t stretch when putting your fairy on the tree – make sure you stand on a stool or stable chair.

4) If sleeping in a different bed stretch both before you get in and before you get up in the morning.

The Indian Squat

Many people experience lack of sleep over Christmas. As the body is generally stiff in the mornings anyway it is even more susceptible to stiffness and further problems during the day if it hasn’t had enough sleep. A warm shower is a must (and you should stretch daily after a shower anyway) but to particularly stretch the back on Christmas Day try doing an Indian squat in the shower – the warmth and the stretch will not only wake the body up but will aid elasticity and the opening of the back inflection will increase space around the nerves

To do a correct Indian Squat in the shower:

Place both feet flat on the shower floor
Gently lower yourself down by bending your knees and keeping your hands on your knees
Allow the flow of the shower water to cascade down your spine
Gently lower yourself as far as you can making sure that you don’t fall backwards
Breathe constantly through the nose
Lean slightly forward and hold for a couple of minutes
Gently raise yourself back up keeping your hands on your knees – this is important as in this position your arms and hands can help you out without the need to twist. Do not twist!
Image of the final squat is that of a child squatting to play with something on the ground with their feet flat on the floor

To find an osteopath in your area visit:

Or call the British Osteopathic Association on 01582 488 455

About osteopathy

Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment. The underlying philosophy is that the body has a natural tendency to heal itself but this can be disrupted by problems with the skeleton and soft tissue, or the relationship between. An osteopath investigates a patient’s symptoms using many of the diagnostic procedures from Conventional Medicine. Osteopaths do not just use one technique or specialise in one area of the body. Osteopathy successfully treats many spine, joint, nerve and muscle problems in people of all ages. Nearly Seven million people are treated by osteopaths every year.

About the British Osteopathic Association
The British Osteopathic Association is the professional association for osteopaths in the UK, acting as an independent representative body whilst promoting the highest standards of osteopathic education and research. Established in 1998 the BOA is committed to supporting, protecting and caring for its members and promoting opportunities for individual and professional development in osteopathic practice. For more information and to search for an osteopath, visit the website:

For Further information, please contact:

Rebecca Jones / John Courtney / VP Communications

Tel: 0208 964 0260 / E-mail:

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