Aches and Pains of Chinese New Year
Aches and Pains of Chinese New Year is a topic that is seldom talked about. For most people, chinese new year is a season for feasting and socialising, but many tend to overlook the physical aspect involved in the celebrations. For those of you who take part in spring cleaning during the chinese new year, aches and pains are expected. As explored in our last article regarding musculoskeletal injuries that are common during spring cleaning – we determined that back and shoulder injuries are the most common. This is usually due to chores like cleaning the floor, vacuuming and wiping movements. We also went through ways to prevent these injuries and what to do if you experience these aches.
However, aches and pains can also occur to those who do not perform household cleaning chores. In this article, we explore common aches and pains that happen during the chinese new year, why they occur and how you can avoid them.
For most Singaporeans, chinese new year includes visitations involving family members and friends. Apart from catching up and having a meal together, one of the common activities is friendly gambling. It is the time of the year where you see more people playing mahjong and card games like blackjack and baccarat. As a usual game of mahjong can take around 3-4 hours, neck pain is inevitable as you will be looking down at your tiles most of the time. Being stuck in that position for too long can result in neck discomfort and pain.
In order to avoid neck aches, do remember to take a break every now and then. Perform some simple neck stretches or rotations during these break times and remember to get out of your seat every now and then. Also consider cutting short the duration of these mahjong games and avoid playing overnight rounds.
Wrist and Elbow Pain
As mentioned above, one of the key highlights of lunar new year is feasting. For those of you who host yearly gatherings, preparing food might be one of the things you have to do. Having to suddenly prepare food and cook for a large number of people could result in wrist and elbow pain. This would occur due to the increased intensity and frequency of repeated actions such as chopping, holding the pots and pans, stirring the food etc.
Cook in smaller portions instead, consider preparing food that requires less preparation and cooking over the stove such as steamboat where the preparation is minimal.
For hosts, another common ache would be back pain. This could arise from shifting furniture around to accommodate guests or carrying heavy items. In order to prevent back pain, one should be more conscious of their posture while lifting heavy items. To avoid straining the back, get into a squat position and use your legs to lift the item instead of using your back.
Another common cause of back pain would be from sitting in a unergonomic and uncomfortable position for too long. This could occur to mahjong or blackjack and baccarat players who often sit in a position without moving for hours. To avoid these back aches, try to sit on a chair with back support or lean against the wall. If neither options are available, do shift and adjust your position from time to time to avoid these aches.
What should you do if you are already experiencing these aches?
If you are already suffering from aches and pains, it would be advised to seek medical attention from a physiotherapist to prevent the pain from getting worse. However, if you are unable to see a medical expert due to festive operating hours, here are some tips from our team of physiotherapists to help you get through the festive season.
Heat therapy is a simple method that provides temporary pain relief. For targeted pain relief, use a hot water bottle or a heat pack and place it directly on the pain area. If you do not have a hot water bottle of a heat pack available, a simple hot shower would help to loosen muscle tightness and help you with pain relief as well.
Use a tennis ball or a massage ball to gently self massage the pain areas. For instance if you are experiencing back pain, lie against the wall with the tennis ball or massage ball in between your back and the wall. Gently lean against the wall and move your body up and down and use your body weight against the ball to massage the targeted pain area. You can do the same for neck pain as well with the tennis ball or massage ball between your neck and the wall.
For elbow pain, lean against the wall with the tennis ball or massage ball between your elbow and the wall. Your elbow should be in a 90 degree angle.
Stretching can help to reduce muscle tension and fatigue. These simple stretches can help to prevent serious wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel. Some wrist and elbow stretches that you can do if you are feeling some aches are as follows:
Wrist flexion stretch
Extend your left arm in front of you with your palms facing upwards towards the ceiling. Hold the palm of your left hand with your right hand and push your left hand downwards so that your fingertips are pointing to the ground. You should feel a stretch at the top of your left wrist and in your left forearm. Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds. Repeat the same with your right arm and do this for 2-3 times.
Wrist extensor stretch
Extend your left arm in front of you with your palms facing downwards towards the ground. Hold the back of your left hand with the palm of your right hand and gently push the back of your left hand downwards so that your fingertips are pointing towards the ground. You should feel a stretch in your left wrist and forearm. Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds. Repeat the same with your right arm and do this for 2-3 times.
If you are experiencing severe aches and pains, do make an appointment to get yourself assessed by a physiotherapist.