“Lights, Camera…Action!” No, the scene is not some famous Hollywood design set, ready for the close-up. Your client is simply on the front lawn of his home, shouting verbal directions to another family member who is attempting to decorate the property’s exterior with holiday lights. Whether the colors of choice are red, green, silver, or blue, Christmas stockings or menorahs, December calls to us each year. In the spirit of family and friends, giving and celebrating, many individuals relish in adorning homes with a warm and welcoming glow.


A Precarious Position

The family member who drew the long straw is the one standing on the lawn, camera at the ready (okay, and perhaps giggling a little!), watching the short-straw recipient balance on the highest rung of a ladder, desperately attempting to untangle and hook the strand of bulbs to the gutters. This scene, reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Vacation movie, can sadly turn from hilarious to hideous in the space of an instant.

Those of us who have spent time precariously standing on that top ladder rung know this fear. We “think” we can just stretch our arms a centimeter higher, in order to place a decoration in a specific spot above the front door. Why climb down, move the ladder, and have to climb up again? Surely if we really extend, we can get this done before halftime is over and the game comes back on. Honestly, our clients are not all that dissimilar.

Such overextension can lead to injuries ranging from pulled muscles to paralysis. Falls from heights are major contributors to Emergency Room crowds during the month leading up to the winter holidays. Often it is not enough just to eyeball a distance and assume it can be reached, especially if this involves reaching overhead.

Rung By Rung, Safely Hung

If you or your client are elected to don the house with gay apparel this month, consider this: each time you climb down from a ladder, lift it up, move it, set it down, and climb back up, you have burned some extra calories! Isn’t it great to know that you are being safe and at the same time creating a calorie deficit that can be filled with an extra holiday treat? Climbing up and down ladder rungs involves the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Lifting the ladder recruits muscles in the deltoids as well as incorporating a bit of bicep action. This “not overextending” idea is looking better and better, now, wouldn’t you say?

Safe reaching is something I stress when teaching my exercise classes, since it falls under the category of ADL, or Activities of Daily Living. Bending, stretching, twisting, reaching, and lifting objects off the floor are all movements we perform each day, often without a conscious thought. It is precisely this reason that I place such major emphasis on proper form, including balance, so that accidental falls can be prevented. It should be no different when holiday decorating is the Activity of Daily Living.

Warm and safe wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!



Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at trainhard@kronemer.com. She welcomes your feedback and your comments!