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A happy and healthy Easter break

The Easter bank holiday weekend is upon us and with it comes the usual crop of warnings about staying healthy over the long weekend.  Apart from common sense advice such as ensuring that repeat prescriptions are filled and collected in advance of the weekend and that medicine cabinets are well-stocked, health boards have also been reminding people about the importance of choosing the right pathway should healthcare be required over the weekend.

The prime message which health boards are trying to convey is that accident and emergency departments are there for serious and life-threatening emergencies, and should not therefore be used as a first port of call for minor injuries and ailments which could be treated elsewhere. In many instances sprains and strains, cuts and grazes could be treated at home whilst local pharmacies may be the best port call for other minor ailments.

A quick internet trawl of the advice arising from health boards also highlights the importance of telephoning 111 for advice or downloading the HANDi App which provides advice and support to parents and carers in respect of children’s illnesses. However, it has to be said that prevention is better than cure and it is therefore important that people take care of themselves in order to reduce the burden on health services.

For example, if the weather should turn fine this bank holiday weekend then keeping to the shade, staying covered up and making sure you are well hydrated could help to prevent heatstroke or sunburn. On the other side of the coin, a small amount of sun is good for us as it helps our bodies to produce vitamin D, a vital ingredient in the development of healthy bones and teeth. With 700 cases of rickets diagnosed in 2013/14, shunning the sun altogether may not be the best solution for long-term health.

Then there’s the other bank holiday tradition of indulging in a sudden spurt of gardening or DIY. For those of us who spend most of our lives sitting in front of a computer screen, suddenly indulging in heavy exercise may not be the best idea for the health of our muscles and ligaments this Easter. So whilst you may not be taking part in organised sport, taking time to warm up before attacking that vegetable patch could help to prevent muscle damage. Then it’s a case of taking regular rest breaks to give tired bodies a chance to recover before they are stretched too far.

And while we’re on the subject don’t neglect the importance of following correct procedures when lifting heavy objects. It’s all too tempting to lean forward to pick up that bag of potting compost but if you do you may well be putting your back in danger. So standard advice says to bend your hips and knees as you squat down to the object you want to move, keep it close to your body and straighten your legs to lift. And when you are lifting or holding heavy object avoid turning or twisting your body.

Following best practice advice may help people to avoid that other bank holiday tradition, the after holiday trip to the physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath. Yes being sensible may mean that you take two days to do something that you thought you could achieve in one; but don’t forget we have got two more bank holidays coming up in May so there’s plenty of time to spread the workload this Easter and stay healthy.

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