Tips to Avoid Pain During the Holidays

To most of us the holiday season is all about tradition, fun, and family, but sometimes the holidays can also be a pain in the neck—literally.

The American Physical Therapy Association offers some great tips to avoid discomfort this holiday season.

Lifting

  • Test an object’s weight before attempting to lift heavy packages or luggage. Try pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy then take smaller loads, which are less likely to strain your back and are easier on arm and shoulder muscles.
  • Keep the load close to your body when lifting.
  • Ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects.
  • Seek help from a physical therapist if your back pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse.

Shopping Without Dropping

  • Distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
  • Consider carrying a small backpack rather than a heavy purse.
  • Wear comfortable shoes; carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries.
  • Don’t carry overstuffed shopping bags for extended periods.
  • Consider using a shopping cart or getting help to carry packages to your car.
  • Make frequent trips to the car to drop off purchases.
  • Avoid prime shopping times to decrease wait times that can increase or exceed standing/walking time tolerances.
  • Plan your shopping trip ahead of time. Having a set list of gifts you intend to buy will help you plan for extra help, if needed, to carry purchases.

Baking

  • Choose a work surface that is approximately at the level of your forearms when your elbows are bent at a right angle (90 degrees) or at elbow height. Shoulders and upper back will be in better position and this will decrease the risk of upper back, neck, and shoulder strain.
  • Work on a padded surface.  If you have tile, vinyl, or wood flooring, for cushioning consider purchasing an inexpensive area rug  that has grippers on the back to keep the rug from moving and you from slipping or tripping. Standing long periods on a hard surface can lead to muscle fatigue and back ache.
  • Use good lifting mechanics when retrieving small kitchen appliances from lower shelves or drawers. Kneel down if necessary and keep the object close to your body.
  • Be careful when bending to take items in and out of a conventional floor-model stove.
  • Frequently perform gentle movement exercises to keep the muscles in your neck and shoulders loose.