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Stay Heathy While Cooking for Thanksgiving

ATI Physical Therapy offers tips to stay healthy while cooking that big meal

Next week, it's time to cook the turkey and all the fixins that go with a Thanksgiving feast. All that cooking is hard work. Chefs, even those working in a home kitchen, need to take steps to make sure that all that cooking does not take its toll on his or her body.

ATI Physical Therapy have some tips that can help keep you pain-free.

“Activities such as standing too long while cooking, meal preparation, and lifting heavy objects like turkeys and boxes can cause back, shoulder and neck pain,” says Tara Smith, physical therapist at ATI. “There are simple things that can be done to help decrease the effects of the added stress on our bodies.”

While cooking:

  • Be sure to stand on a padded surface, and maintain even weight on each leg.
  • Try using a stool to prop-up one foot, and give each leg a turn.
  • It’s best to stand when carving or chopping, so choose a workspace that is level with your forearms when elbows are bent at a 90° angle.
  • Don’t forget to take a break every 20-30 minutes and perform simple stretching exercises to loosen shoulder, back and neck muscles.

Lifting the turkey or dessert

  • Lift with your knees, and avoid bending at the waist or twisting your trunk.
  • Keep the load close to your midline (bellybutton), and your body.
  • If you need to move any heavy objects, test the weight of the object first by pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy, ask for help.

In addition to muscle aches and pains, injuries to the hand are all too common during the holidays. From turkey carving to broken glass, the kitchen can be a dangerous place.

“We often see finger and tendon injuries when patients try to cut a piece of bread in their hand, or catch a slice of meat under the knife," Heather Robinson, certified hand therapist with ATI Hand Therapy, said. Always remember to use a cutting board, and keep your free hand away from the knife.”

Carving Safety Tips

  • Keep your knife sharp, the handle dry and consider using an electric knife for ease with carving.
  • Your carving surface should be dry to help prevent the item from slipping, and well-lit so you can see.
  • Never carve towards yourself, and keep your free hand opposite of the side you are carving towards.
  • When it’s time for the dreaded washing of the dishes, remember that wet, sudsy plates and glasses can be dangerous to your hands if dropped.

If you get cut, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to help stop bleeding. Seek medical attention if bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, or you notice tingling or numbness.

If you do get hurt and your aches and pains last more than a few days, visit any ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a Complimentary Injury Screening. ATI will address your concerns, evaluate your injury and provide you with options for continued care. Visit www.ATIpt.com for a location near you.

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