Tips For Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here! You’ve planned out the menu, finalized your travel plans, and the fun is about to begin. The holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is packed full of cooking and activity. Whether you’re staying busy in the kitchen or helping with decorations, it’s important to remember these safety tips to ensure there is no need for an emergency room run. Dr. Michael Hussey, an ASO surgeon who specializes in the shoulder and elbow, has shared a few reminders as the holidays officially begin!

Family sitting at the dining table full of food. The roasted thanksgiving turkey is in focus.

  1. Support your back! If your holiday plans involve traveling, Dr. Hussey suggests making sure you have good back support, particularly lumbar support. “Adjust your seat so that you are comfortably sitting upright and avoid slouching posture,” he says. “Adjust the lumbar support in your seat or use a lumbar support pad to reinforce your low back position.  Another good activity to perform while in the car or airplane is to do ankle pumps and calf squeezes to keep the circulation in the legs moving. This helps prevent blood clots from forming in the legs, which could be life threatening.” 
  2. Stay safe in the kitchen! Did you know the kitchen is one of the most common places for household accidents? Since it’s also one of the busiest places during a holiday like Thanksgiving that revolves around food, be sure to keep children away from carving areas, hot cooking surfaces and sharp utensils. For those taking on the main dish, Dr. Hussey offers this advice. “Be careful while lifting heavy food items like whole turkeys or hams in and out of the oven,” he says. “These can often weigh over 20 pounds, and if proper lifting technique is not used, can lead to significant musculoskeletal problems, like rotator cuff or lumbar spine injuries. Good lifting technique utilizes the legs and not the back to move heavy food items in and out of the oven. Keep these items close to the body and avoid overextending the arms to prevent shoulder strain.”

  3. Skip the nap and get moving! Don’t give in to the turkey coma post-meal. Instead of taking a snooze on the couch, consider going on a long walk or jog around your neighborhood or local park. Dr. Hussey says it’s a fun way to spend time with family, as well as burn off some holiday calories. “Also, playing a family game of basketball or other sport that your family enjoys is a great way to improve your cardiac fitness and burn off calories.” Be the one to start the tradition of an annual family football game. Healthy competition is good for everyone!

  4. Double check your step! If your family’s tradition is to move swiftly into the next holiday by pulling Christmas decorations out, Dr. Hussey shares these tips. “Be very careful when decorating in high places,” he says. “Inspect your ladder to make sure it’s in good condition before climbing. Always have someone hold your ladder steady to prevent a bad fall. If you’ve had any recent injuries, and there’s any doubt about your physical condition, you definitely need to have a friend or family member assist in decorating, or consider hiring a professional to get your holiday decorations up. Many orthopaedic injuries are seen in our clinic every year from bad falls related to holiday decorating mishaps. This is supposed to be a fun time of year with friends and family, but unfortunately, we see way too many injuries occur that could have been easily prevented if some of these basic safety tips were followed. 

“We understand that life is unpredictable, and if injuries do occur, our physicians at Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics are here to assist you in ‘Getting Back to Life’!”

Happy Thanksgiving!


Dr. Michael Hussey is an orthopaedic surgeon at Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics who specializes in surgery of the shoulder and elbow. In his practice, he devotes his passion and skills to the treatment of all complex shoulder and elbow disorders, ranging from sports injuries to arthritis.