Can you believe it’s almost Halloween? The past few months have flown by, and we are already heading quickly into the middle of fall. While this year’s festivities may look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t mean you can’t still decorate the house with pumpkins and spiders galore. If you suffer from back or neck pain, be sure to follow these tips to make your Halloween pumpkin carving a breeze.
- Use a Sturdy, Hip-Level Table
Pumpkin carving is fun, but it can cause a lot of strain on your back and neck if you’re bent over for a long period of time and exerting force with your hands and arms. If possible, cover the kitchen table with newspapers and do your pumpkin carving there. That way, you aren’t hunched over on the ground, and have a stable form to support your back and neck. This will also protect your hands and body in avoiding any potentially dangerous slipping of the knives/tools while carving.
- Take Breaks
If you are predisposed to neck pain or back pain, start your carving session slowly and take breaks! Start by hollowing out the pumpkin, and maybe stop to wash and bake some seeds for a Halloween treat. Have a plan of what you are going to carve before you start by drawing it out on a piece of paper so that you don’t spend any extra time on your feet. If your back, neck, or hands start to feel uncomfortable, listen to your body and take a 5-10 minute stretch break. Rotate your neck in circular motions to ease any neck pain, and stand up straight to stretch out your lumbar region.
- Have the Proper Utensils
Using the wrong utensils to carve your pumpkin can not only be dangerous, but it could cause some extra stress on your body. Pick up some proper carving tools that are safe and efficient, and won’t have you in danger of hurting yourself. If possible, purchase a pumpkin carving kit, which can greatly simplify the process and make it easier on your bones.
- Make New Traditions!
If you are unable to carve a pumpkin in the “traditional” way, try some alternatives! Using paint or markers can make for a fun family activity that includes the kids the whole time, while keeping everyone safe and injury-free. Decorating a few smaller pumpkins is an easy way to get the kids involved, or on the larger pumpkins you can have them create fingerprint ghosts and pumpkins. These simple alternatives allow you to create a project that isn’t too large to complete, and is a great way to spend some family time together.
Though we may not be able to trick-or-treat traditionally this year, it’s important to celebrate the holiday in a safe and fun way at home. Try adding something new to your Halloween traditions, and let us know how it goes! If you experience any remaining back or neck pain for more than 2 days after you carve your pumpkins, make sure to schedule a consultation with us at Virginia Spine Institute. Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Dr. Colin Haines is a board certified spine surgeon and the Director of Research at Virginia Spine Institute. Dr. Haines performed the world’s first combined endoscopic and robot-guided spine surgery. His patient success has earned him a national feature on The Today Show and WebMD, and Top Doctor recognition in consecutive years. Learn more about Dr. Haines.