Eight out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives and, for some, it might be this holiday season. Between travel, preparations and stress, there are a lot of things that could go wrong for our backs during the holidays.
Here are 12 tips on how to navigate this season so you’ll be back-pain-free–allowing you to spend more time with your loved ones.
When it comes to decorating for the holidays, it’s best to do it in pairs. Put one person in charge of handling ornaments and lights and one person in charge of hanging them. This will prevent the reaching, twisting and bending (not good for your back!) that usually accompanies hanging decor.
2.) Wear Comfortable Shoes on Shopping Excursions
If you’re heading out for a day full of holiday shopping, remember to wear comfortable shoes with plenty of cushioning. Wearing uncomfortable shoes that pinch or give you blisters will hurt your feet and could potentially lead to back pain.
During holiday shopping sprees, we tend to bury ourselves in shopping bags. Rather than put out your back, balance the bags evenly in each hand with heavier items towards the bottom of the bags and lighter items on top. If you can, try to make an extra trip out to your car to drop bags off in-between stores.
4.) Keep Your Back Safe While Shopping Online
Online shopping has become more of the norm these days, but even if you aren’t out and about, sitting at a computer can still potentially harm your back.
Make sure while you are online shopping you maintain correct sitting posture with your feet flat on the floor, arms relaxed with your elbows at 90 degrees and your monitor at a proper height for your eyes.
5.) Ditch the Heels at Holiday Parties
If you’re planning on wearing your stilettos to your next holiday party, at least try to remember to have good posture. We recommend ditching your heels altogether and sporting a pair of ballet flats.
Either way, when standing, keep your knees soft and your ears, shoulders, hips and knees aligned.
6.) Take 3 Minutes for Yourself
Sometimes with everything going on during the holidays, it’s hard to breathe and take a moment for yourself. But even in as a little as three minutes, you can accomplish a ton! Use the time to stretch, roll out some of your aches and pains or do small exercises to improve your posture.
7.) Don’t Stress About What You Eat at Holiday Parties
Stress and back pain go hand in hand, so why get stressed over indulging a little bit during the holidays? Research shows that eating and talking with good friends will release endorphins and ease stress. So don’t spend too much time counting calories and carbs. On days you don’t have a holiday gathering to attend, just make sure you eat in moderation and exercise.
With everything going on, we might ignore signs of back pain and continue to tackle our extensive to-do lists. Unfortunately, that approach will probably make your back pain worse. Be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of back pain and treat it right away. If you don’t treat your pain properly, studies show it has an 80 percent chance of returning.
9.) Give a Hug!
Hugging has been shown by studies to increase oxytocin and reduce blood pressure. Since it is the season of giving, why not give as many hugs as you can and enjoy some of the benefits while you’re at it?!
If you’re travelling for the holidays, undoubtedly your suitcase will be packed to the brim. Make sure when lifting your bag off of the airport carousel, you bend at your knees (not at your waist) to pick it up and avoid reaching and lifting—which puts a lot of strain on the low back.
11.) Change Positions While Wrapping Gifts
Wrapping gifts on the ground can be bad for your posture and your back. Try to rotate your body position while wrapping gifts so you aren’t hunched over the same way for hours at a time. Start by standing at a table, move to a comfortable chair, and then stand back up again.
12.) Get Enough Sleep
There’s no doubt there is always a lot to do during the holidays—between shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking and playing Santa, getting enough sleep can be one of the first things to go on your to-do list. But sleep deprivation is a big contributor to depression which can have a major impact on back pain. Try to squeeze in at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
What are some of your go-to tips for getting through the holidays pain-free?