Grocery Shopping and Proper Body Mechanics

Ever feel hurried when grocery shopping? Often, to save time, we cut corners leaving ourselves more prone to injuries. We wanted to take a moment to define good posture, body mechanics and suggest a few ways you can incorporate these principles when grocery shopping.

Good posture is defined as maintaining the normal spinal curves. The spine has five groups of bones: 7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (mid back), 5 lumbar (low back), 5 sacral/4 coccygeal (sacrum). When positioned properly, the neck and low back have inward curves, and the mid back and sacrum have outward curves. Proper body mechanics can be defined as posture in motion. Back pain is seldom caused by a single injury or incident. Poor body mechanics and faulty postures (i.e. postures outside of the normal spinal curves) over time contribute significantly to back pain.

Proper body mechanics allows the spine to maintain its natural curves and minimizes the stress on the joints and muscles. The use of the “ready position” will allow you to maintain good posture while moving. The “ready position” is when you knees are bent, your feet are shoulder width apart, and your weight is on your heels. You spine remains straight while you bend at your hips. It will feel like you are lowering yourself to sit down in a chair. All the normal curves of your spine will be maintained and the large muscles in your legs will do most of the work. The “ready position” should be used with all activities of daily living, including grocery shopping/bending/carry and lifting.

Moving into the “ready position”

Poor Posture Normal Curves

When carrying your groceries keep the load even on each side of your body and only take in a few bags at a time. It is important to keep your spine upright and not lean to one side to avoid injury to your back.

Make sure you pick a good shopping cart. If you get a cart and notice it is pulling more to one side or isn’t rolling easily then stop and grab a different cart. Once you start loading the cart the small pull will intensify and cause increased stress your low back.When pushing the cart try to keep your body forward and straight and avoid rotating your body while shopping. It is important to not push a load with your spine in a twisted position because this can cause injury to your back.

When getting items from the shelves it is important to use proper lifting mechanics.

BODY MECHANICS – WAIST HEIGHT LIFTING
Start by standing close to the object with feet spread apart. Bend at the knees and hips and NOT at your spine.
Hold the object close to your body as you use your legs muscles to stand back up lifting the object.
Walk over to the surface you want to set the object on to and set it down. Be sure to NOT twist your spine but to pivot your feet so that your feet are pointed forward to where you want to set the object.
Slide the object on the shelf to off load your body.

BODY MECHANICS – KNEE HEIGHT LIFTING
Start by standing close to the object with feet spread apart. Bend at the knees and hips and NOT at your spine.
Hold the object close to your body as you use your legs muscles to stand back up lifting the object.
Walk over to the surface you want to set the object on to and set it down bending at the knees slightly. Do Not bend at the spine. Also, be sure NOT to twist your spine but to pivot your feet so that your feet are pointed forward to where you want to set the object.
Slide the object on the shelf to off load your body.

BODY MECHANICS – OVER HEAD LIFTING
Start by standing close to the object with feet spread apart. Bend at the knees and hips and NOT at your spine.
Hold the object close to your body as you use your legs muscles to stand back up lifting the object.
Walk over to the surface you want to set the object on and raise it up over head with a “one-hand-under and one-hand-over” technique as shown. Set it down and DO NOT extend at the spine. Also, be sure NOT to twist your spine but to pivot your feet so that your feet are pointed forward to where you want to set the object.
Slide the object on the shelf to off load your body.

Loading and unloading your car is a critical time to think about your body position. It is easy to forget about body mechanics as you reach in the back seat or into the trunk of your car. You want to bend at your knees and hips keeping the natural curves of your back and lift with your legs. Face the area your lifting from and move your feet instead of twisting your back to get to the area where you are putting your groceries. As you set the groceries in your car make sure you are facing the area as well.


So, the next time you are grocery shopping stop and check yourself before bending and lifting. Go through the steps for the “ready position” and incorporate them in your shopping routine. The couple of seconds you take to do this could save you from a back injury that could last for months/years.

Meal Planning 101

We are getting geared up for the kick off of our Meal Planning workshop series here at Summit! We are excited to bring the basics of meal planning to you and also provide the opportunity to build upon that knowledge each month to help you become a meal planning expert.

The Basics:

  1. Start by printing out a blank calendar for the month.
  2. Add in all upcoming events for that month. By doing this, you will be able to plan more realistically for your family’s schedule.
  3. Add in easy and favorite meals. See if you can use the leftovers form these meals for something else also.
  4. Go through your freezer, fridge, pantry, etc. and make a list of what you have that needs to be used. Add those recipes using those particular items into the plan.
  5. Next, find out what coupons you have and what sales are going on. Incorporate those sales into your meal plan.
  6. Make sure you are using fresher ingredients towards the beginning of the week so they don’t go bad before you can use them.
  7. We recommend starting off planning week-by-week. Some seasoned meal planners might plan for an entire month at a time. We just find that schedules can change and can throw a wrench into your meal plans.

Expanding your meal planning skills:

  1. Create a master list of meal ideas. You can do separate lists for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you desire.
    • Check out this link for some beginner ideas
    • You can also scroll through Pinterest which has an overwhelming amount of recipe ideas you can use
  2. You want to develop an arsenal of tried and true recipes that you can use for quick meal planning.
  3. Keep your budget in mind. You don’t want to go overboard. Try finding recipes that use fewer or similar ingredients as much as possible
  4. Designate a day for meal prepping to make your week run smoother
    • Check out this link for prepping chicken
    • Try batch cooking so you can freeze sauces and things for later us
  5. Make rotating themes to help you get out of the meal planning rut. Some dinner theme ideas you could use are:
    • Pasta night
    • Taco night
    • Ethnic night
    • Salad night
    • Soup & Sandwich night
      • There’s nothing like a bowl of tomato soup paired with a crispy, gooey grilled cheese!
    • Crockpot night
    • Casserole night
      • Check out this link for some awesome Casserole ideas!
    • Freezer Meal night
      • Check out this link for some great Freezer meal ideas!
    • Seafood night
      • Shrimp scampi, fish tacos, Baked tilapia… Check out Pinterest for some great seafood recipes!
    • Grill night
      • Burgers, brats, hot dogs… perfect for a summer night!
    • Leftovers night
      • Reusing things from past meals is the easiest way to stretch your grocery budget.
    • Breakfast for dinner
      • How could you go wrong with pancakes or bacon?
    • Kids cook dinner
      • Have your child/children pick out a recipe they’d like for dinner. If they’re older, have them cook on their own. If they’re younger, spend some quality time together and cook with them!
      • Follow this link to get some ideas for some kid friendly recipes
    • Take Out night
      • For those crazy nights, sometimes it truly is easier to just grab something.
    • Restaurant night
      • We can all use a night out. 🙂
    • Sheet Pan dinner night
      • Check out this link for some sheet pan dinner ideas!
    • Meatless/Vegetarian night
      • Don’t let the thought of meatless scare you! A meatless dinner could be a fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato panini with a balsamic glaze!
    • Pizza night
      • Get creative! There are so many different types of pizza you can make at home.

If you enjoyed what you read here, come join us for our meal planning workshop series! Call our office or visit our Facebook page for more information!

Taking Care of Yourself in the Kitchen

Are you reluctant to cook anymore because of back pain, foot pain, or neck pain? It is difficult to get in the kitchen to make healthy meals or wash dishes when you are in pain after a short amount of time. We have put together a few ways to help manage or even decrease your pain to get you back in the kitchen!

Low Back Pain
Back pain in the kitchen is very common due to our position and the hard floors we stand on. When standing at the counter to cut up food or standing at the stove, our backs are not always straight. If you are tall, you are in a slight forward bend to reach down and if you are short, you may have to reach up more. Because of this, our backs can take a lot of stress.
In order to help manage pain, the first thing you want to do while standing is to “engage your core”. To do this, you are attempting to pull your navel in toward you spine and tighten your deep abdominal muscles. It should feel as if you are on the verge of laughing or coughing, or bracing yourself as if you were going to get socked in the stomach. Engaging the core helps to stabilize and protect the low back and also helps you to stand up taller so you are not leaning over as much.
Another option is trying to prep ahead of time. If you are able, cut vegetables in the morning, or prepare the meat early so you are not on your feet for extended periods. You may also find ways to prep vegetables or meat while sitting.
Prior to cooking and standing you may want to stretch your hamstrings and quads. These muscles can tight with standing in one spot to help support the lumbar spine. With the core engaged while cooking and the hamstrings and quads stretched, you are helping to manage the low back pain.

Neck Pain
Neck pain can be common in the kitchen as well due to looking down at the counter to cut, stirring a pot, or lifting heavy pots can even put stress on the cervical spine. To help manage some of the symptoms, here are a few things to try.
Check you posture often while cooking. It may be difficult to stand up tall the whole time because you have to look down, however if you keep your shoulder blades back instead of rounding them forward, it will help keep your neck in a more neutral position while looking down. It is always good to take a break in between activities and when going from cutting to sautéing then make sure your posture is good during the transition.
As mentioned with low back pain, attempt to prep what you can ahead of time so you don’t have to look down as long while cutting then cooking immediately after.
If you feel the neck gets tight and stiff, stretching your upper traps (first picture), levator (second picture) and scalenes (third picture) will help to decrease some of the tightness and relieve pain.

Foot Pain
Another common issue with standing in the kitchen is foot pain, usually plantar fasciitis, though can also be tendonitis, post-surgical, or arthritis.
To help with manage foot pain, make sure you wear supportive shoes while standing for long periods. Wearing just any shoes, sandals, or slippers will not work, rather you need to make sure they are supportive tennis shoes.
Getting an anti-fatigue mat will also help to protect your feet in standing, and dually will help with low back pain as well! Place a few of these around the kitchen where you may be standing the most to help soften the floor and protect the feet.
Lastly, you can stretch the calf and the bottom of the foot to increase the flexibility. Also using a frozen water bottle to roll on the bottom of the foot can help. Doing this before helps to keep the pain down during and doing it again after will help with any pain from standing long periods.

Along with all of these tidbits, don’t be afraid to take an anti-inflammatory or use ice or heat (whichever is most comfortable and helpful for you) in order to manage the symptoms.
Now that we have given you ways to manage the most common pain areas in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to get in there and make those healthy meals!