The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 28, 2012

Ten tips for a healthy back during the holiday season

By Dr. Larry Bridge for the SNAP

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 — The holiday season has already started and Christmas and the new year are approaching fast.

Along with the holiday season comes an increase in activity levels and seasonal demands, all of which can lead to an increase in back pain and stress during this winter season and have a negative affect on our bodies and lives.

More lifting is required during this time of year including packages, boxes of decorations, trimmings and that six foot tall Christmas tree.

Physical activity increases with the long hours of shopping, walking and the carrying of gifts that have been purchased, all of which can increase the chance of muscle and joint strain and pain.

Life gets busier and more demands are made of us which lead to an increase in physical and emotional stress. Here are some tips for a healthier back and a more enjoyable holiday season.

Learn to lift without bending over. Bend your hips and knees and then squat to pick up an object or box of interest. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Don’t twist your body while lifting. Push rather than pull when moving heavy objects

Wear a good supportive shoe with low heals (sneakers or walking shoes would be ideal) for those long hours of shopping on those concrete store floors.  

Make frequent trips to the car to decrease the number of packages that have to be carried.Take frequent breaks while shopping, at least 10 minutes every hour, and eat a light snack such as a piece of fruit or salad. Drink lots of water (8 to 10, eight ounce glasses per day) and avoid coffee and sodas which contain caffeine and can increase your stress levels.

Leave your purse at home, carry a wallet or fanny pack with just the essentials (for my girlfriend that would include my cash and  credit card and her license).  

Try to leave the children at home when planning a shopping excursion. It is usually not a fun event for them (or for you with them along) and this will reduce your stress and hopefully make shopping a pleasant experience. Enjoy the time alone or take a friend along.

Increased emotional stress can lead to an increase in back pain. Keep everything in perspective. Take time to celebrate and don’t allow preparation for holiday events and other responsibilities ruin the occasion. Do not sacrifice all of your time and energy for the enjoyment of others. Ask for help.   

Times are stressful, be thankful for what you have, things could always be worse. Enjoy the moment. This holiday season will pass quickly, make it a cherished memory for you and your family.

Get plenty of rest. Over-tired people tend to have an increase in musculo-skeletal related aches and pain.

See your chiropractor at least once a month. He/she can help decrease life’s daily pain and stresses, get you back on the road to wellness and keep you there.