The Recipe for Avoiding Back Pain in the Kitchen This Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, many people will be spending more time in the kitchen baking and cooking for their family. While it’s a wonderful time to be sharing meals and treats with those you love, they wouldn’t want you to jeopardize your health and well-being just for a tasty dish. These 7 tips are to help you avoid back pain while working in the kitchen.

1. Wear Supportive Shoes

If you plan to be in the kitchen for awhile, wearing comfortable shoes with a good arch is best for supporting your back. Whatever you do, do not cook barefoot – not only can that cause back pain, but spilling any hot foods or liquids on your feet can cause severe burns. Bad arch support and burns can only equal one thing: a ruined Thanksgiving!

2. Use an Anti-Fatigue Mat

Standing on hard surfaces can put added pressure on your body. Using one of these mats, especially for those who have previously suffered from back pain, will help to absorb the pressure while standing and make your holiday cooking feel like a breeze. Be sure to move the mat as needed (ie. in front of the sink, oven, etc.) or if you are able, purchase a second one to place in your most used kitchen spots to save the hassle.

3. Sit While You Prep

Try to sit for any tasks that can be done without standing. Tasks like peeling or chopping vegetables, measuring out ingredients, or shelling nuts, all can be done from a sitting position. If the kitchen table and chair are an appropriate level to safely measure and chop ingredients, try prepping comfortably by using a pillow for back support.

4. Maintain Proper Posture

Hunching over a cutting board or mixing bowl on your counter can cause a lot of strain on your back. To help avoid that unwanted pain, keep your back straight and shoulders back. If you feel yourself starting to slouch, take a stretch break and head out of the kitchen for a few moments (if you are able to take your eyes off the prize!).

5. Stand Close to the Counter

When you stand further away from the counter, you tend to bend or hunch forward. Try standing closer to the counter, and then bring your food closer into you as well. These adjustments will help you avoid over straining your neck and back.

6. Take Breaks

Whether you have someone else take over for a little, or if you just need to step away to stretch, make sure you are taking breaks. Breaks allow you to loosen your muscles and joints from the stiff position they were just in. This helps to avoid muscle soreness and overstraining that causes back pain.

7. Be Careful Lifting Heavy Objects

When it’s time to pull out heavy cookware or appliances, make sure proper technique is used to bend, lift, and twist. Flexing your spine while bending or carrying something increases your risk of injury.

  • If you have to pick up heavy cookware from a lower position, keep your back straight and bend at your knees.
  • Avoid bending to the side when trying to lift or reach something.
  • When pulling a hot dish from the oven, take advantage of the sliding grate. This allows you to not overextend your back.

By following these seven tips while cooking and baking, you can decrease your risk of back pain and enjoy your upcoming holiday festivities! If you do happen to injure your back, our spine specialists at Virginia Spine Institute are here to help you with the most comprehensive care possible.

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