Turkey Ergonomics

If you love any excuse to get the crowd together as much as I do, you've already planned your Thanksgiving dinner menu and guest list. You've probably ordered the turkey!

We accept preparations for festivities as part of the process; but you'd be surprised to learn how often what's routine goes wrong at holiday time. Some of the things we see in the clinic are slip and falls, aggravated wrist injury, and a host of joint injuries caused by lifting or standing too long in one position. Who wants an injury to spoil the fun?

The following ergonomic tips are geared to safety in the kitchen.

Heavy Lifting?

Cooking a turkey this year? A turkey can be a fairly heavy object to lift; ours is usually about 25 pounds. It is important to watch your body mechanics while bending, lifting, and twisting especially with a heavy load. Remember to:

- Hold items close to your body when lifting.
- Be sure to use your hips and knees to bend.
- Ask for help lifting if you know you have some pre-existing joint or low back issues

Carrying heavy trays?

When carrying a heavy load, keep it close to your body and avoid twisting to place it on the counter. Instead, try to take small steps and stand directly in front of the counter or table when you gently place it down with control.

Take a Breath.

Breathing is so important when carrying any heavy load. Remember to breathe in to add more stability when lifting, exhale when lowering the object.

Standing for long stretches?

- Take breaks if you are standing for a long time, and change positions often to keep your body balanced.
- Use a kitchen or bar-stool with a cross-bar to rest your feet. Being able to sit while chopping or mixing helps. Most people have better posture and are more balanced while sitting.
- Check your flooring. A floor with a soft spongy surface like wood or cork is easier on the knees, feet and legs. If your floors are hard, use non-skid mats to cushion your joints.

Protect your hands and wrists.

- Use a good quality knife and make sure it's sharp.
- Use tools where you can to prevent wrist injuries: Some jar-openers open jars with no strain to the wrist. Mandolins and food processors make chopping and slicing easy.
- Choose kitchen utensils with large grips to lessen strain on the hands.

Enjoy the festivities safely! Happy Thanksgiving!