Have a healthy back? Consider yourself incredibly lucky! But even people who don’t suffer from chronic back pain are at risk for acute, short-term back pain that puts a crimp in both your back and your style. The holidays are a particularly risky time in terms of injuries and over exertion. Here is a list of the most common pain-inducing activities, as well as some helpful tips for avoiding them.
Holiday back pain tends to follow these celebratory activities:
- Lifting – Maybe it’s carrying heavy bags of presents from stores to your car and then into your home. Maybe you’re lugging boxes of holiday decorations up from the basement of moving furniture to make room for guests. One way or another, if you’re unaccustomed to carrying heavy things, there’s a chance you’re going to hurt yourself – and that can make you miserable in the days that follow.
- Hanging holiday decorations – There is nothing that can put you in the holiday spirit like decorating your Christmas tree or hanging holiday decorations inside or outside of the house. But climbing ladders, twisting, and reaching can put a strain on muscles, and could have you seeing stars.
- Wrapping gifts – You may think that the most dangerous aspect of gift wrapping is the risk of a paper cut, but if the surface you’re working on has you bending for an extended period of time, you’re going to feel it for days after.
- Cooking – Holiday guests and celebrations mean lots of feasting, and if you’re the one cooking the meal it means you’ll be on your feet for a long time – and possibly lifting a 20-pound turkey in and out of the oven. It’s a recipe for real pain.
- Travel – Sitting in the car, a train, or an airplane for a long period of time invites stiffness, and this is especially true if you’re under stress. Add on the burden of heavy luggage being carted around or lifted in and out of overhead bins and you’re inviting pain.
Though all of the events listed here contribute to your joy during “the most wonderful time of the year,” they can also cause you significant pain that can put a real damper on your celebration. To minimize your chances of hurting yourself, take the following steps:
- Remember that you are neither Santa Claus nor Superman. Know your limits and if something is too heavy, to far a reach, or too much for you to do on your own, ask for help!
- Use good form when carrying or lifting. Remember to carry things in front of you and use your legs to lift. When wrapping gifts, work at a surface that is high enough to allow you to work comfortably without bending.
- Place a cushioned mat under the area where you will be cooking to relieve back strain, and wear supportive, cushioned shoes.
We want you to enjoy all of the holidays. If you find yourself struggling with back pain, be sure to contact our New Jersey spine care practice to set up a time to come in and see us.