Our Union back pain specialists recommend these tips to keep your back pain-free while navigating all the hazards of the holidays
Let the holiday games begin! For many of us, Thanksgiving marks the start of what seems like a hectic race to the end of the holiday season, and our normal lives as we knew them before get put on hold until crossing the finish line. Over the next few weeks, we’ll rush around frantically to decorate the house, shop ‘til we drop, transport gifts and family members, and visit loved ones in various locations. The extra work can really take a toll on our bodies, especially our backs, and that’s why our Union back specialists offer some advice on how to get through the holidays without experiencing back pain.
The back is normally victim to many of the stresses and strains of everyday life, but during the holidays, this load is increased significantly. Decorating our houses can be a time-consuming and physically challenging effort that requires bending over to get into small spaces, reaching to hang items and carrying large boxes up and down stairs. The entire gift-buying experience can also have an impact on our backs, as we purchase and then transport presents—sometimes very heavy ones—from stores to our homes, and eventually to other locations.
Throw in shoveling the driveway, moving heavy luggage when traveling and sitting for extended periods of time in cars, planes and at the table, and you have a recipe that adds up to extra strain on our backs and a higher likelihood of experiencing back pain. The reason is that while our bodies are capable of handling slightly more than we normally put them though, it’s difficult for them to adapt to a significant increase in expenditure brought on by the holidays.
The result for many people is repetitive strain on the back that can lead to pain and really interfere with their enjoyment of the holidays. It’s no surprise that we see an increase in patients this time of year with back pain, and most cases are simply the result of overworking without taking proper precautions. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to help you while carrying heavy loads and during other activities to prevent back pain:
- Try to stretch your back every day; a good exercise is to stand with knees straight, place palms in the small of your lower back, slowly lean back while arching lower back, then assume an upright posture upon returning
- Use proper form any time you’re carrying a heavy load such as a box of decorations, gift or piece of luggage:
- Always ask for help if the load is too heavy to carry by yourself
- Stand close to the load and place your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your back straight, bend your knees and squat down
- Get a good grip before lifting, and while keeping the load close to your body, stand up and keep your back straight and strong throughout
- When hanging decorations, use a sturdy stool or ladder (not furniture), and avoid twisting awkwardly or overreaching your body
- For shoveling, use an ergonomically-designed shovel, stretch before beginning, don’t twist your torso, follow the same proper form for lifting
Despite the craziness involved, the holidays truly can be a time of joy, so don’t let unnecessary back pain get in the way of your enjoyment of the season. Our Union back pain specialists urge you to follow these tips throughout the holidays to keep your back safe, and if you have pain or any other issues, contact Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Union, Somerville, Woodbridge and Edison, NJ at 908-258-8782 for more information or to schedule an appointment.