So why would anyone needs tips to help avoid pain during the Holidays?
First off, we’re talking about physical pain here. The demands of the Holiday season with all the shopping, lifting of boxes, standing while cooking, and general preparations can wreak havoc on the body if these demands are not performed properly or if you are weak in certain areas of your body. This weakness in certain muscle groups can cause muscle soreness or muscle pain, joint stress, and even minor injuries, because your muscles and joints are not accustom to being used in this way (or at all).
Maybe you remember last year’s back pain, neck pain, foot pain, ankle pain, hip pain, knee pain, or general headache associated with everything that you went through during the Holiday season. It doesn’t have to be a painful experience!
“The added demands of the holidays stresses the body, which may increase the risk of injuries related to the extra activities,” says APTA spokesperson and physical therapist E. Anne Reicherter, PT, DPT, PhD. “Using proper body mechanics can help prevent muscle and joint discomfort this holiday season.”
So let’s look at some tips that you can use to truly help avoid pain during the Holidays:
Shop, Don’t Drop: Nobody is saying you can’t go shopping just because it might hurt your back, but just be smart about it! Hopefully you stayed safe during the Black Friday rush and didn’t suffer any injuries while being trampled.
- Try to do a little warmup before you get out in the chaos. Riding a stationary bike or doing some simple at-home exercises will go a long way.
- Stretch the muscles of your lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves to make sure these muscles are lengthened before you start shopping and walking long distances. Stretching these muscles will help prevent them from tightening up so much and causing muscle pain.
- Wear comfortable shoes. House slippers don’t count. Your shoes need adequate support. Think “tennis shoe”, not “high heel”. You’re going to be walking around on concrete more than likely.
- Always use a shopping cart and push it all the way to your car before unloading.
- It may be tough but try to find shopping times when the rush is as slow as possible. This will keep you from having to stand in line for long periods of time on hard ground.
- If you have to pick up a box or group of bags off the ground, or even your trunk, focus on keeping your back straight and vertical while bending at the knees to grasp your items.Lift by simply straightening your legs. Your legs are much stronger than your lower back and much less susceptible to injury. The worst thing you can do is bend straight over at the waist with a rounded back (the same is true if you maintained a straight back at this point), kept your legs straight and then lifted the object with your lower back muscles. Even if you think the object is not heavy, don’t lift it this way.
- Keep the load close to your body when lifting it off the ground. An easy way to get hurt is to get the object out away from you.
- Make a few trips. Don’t try to be a hero and carry it all in one trip. This is a fast-track way to hurt yourself.
- Always call us if your back or neck pain last longer than 1 day or feels severe enough to need immediate help.