Thursday, November 18, 2010

Watch Your Back This Holiday Season!

The holiday season is upon us and that means time to shop, decorate the house and cause stress to the body that ultimately leads to back pain and other physical ailments. The Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), which represents over 1700 chiropractors statewide, is once again urging residents to follow their health guidelines and tips to make this holiday season a festive one and not a painful experience.

Putting up holiday lights, carrying a Christmas tree or lugging packages from the mall can cause stress to the back. In addition, raking leaves, shoveling the first snow and lunging from a ladder can also cause physical harm. These problems are all caused by performing tasks that the body is not accustomed to, according to Dr. Brett Wartenberg, the ANJC Chiropractor-of-the-Year.

“The body, at this time of year, starts to break down and performing a number of seasonal tasks that the body is not used to can cause back problems,” said Wartenberg. “During the winter holiday season chiropractors treat a variety of health injuries in addition to back problems, including sprained ankles, foot problems, slipped discs, strained muscles and wrists. All of the little things the public does beyond their normal routine can cause these problems. It’s called repetitive trauma.”

Following a year-long exercise program would help alleviate holiday physical stress. However, since many do not follow such a routine, it is essential that they take the time to prepare themselves for holiday conditions.

One of the major culprits of holiday back stress is the problems caused by holiday shopping. For shoppers and retailers the day after Thanksgiving has become the biggest shopping day of the year.

For those venturing out to do holiday shopping, the ANJC has developed some healthy pointers to reduce unneeded stress or a condition called “Back Friday.”

10 Tips for Surviving “Back Friday”

1) Warm up and do a lot of stretching before attempting to lift any packages or items.
2) Wear only your most comfortable, properly-cushioned sneakers/shoes to get you through the busy day.
3) Equally distribute the weight you’re carrying between both arms. To ensure that the weight in your shopping bags is properly balanced, repack your bags to evenly distribute it. Don’t try to be a hero by carrying all bags in one hand.
4) Don’t overreach for that item on the top shelf. Have a sales clerk use a ladder to reach your item.
5) Take several breaks and trips to unload packages to/from your car.
6) Make sure you bend your knees when searching for that item on lower shelves.
7) Don’t block your line of sight with your packages. Make sure you can see where you are walking and know where you are going to put down your packages. This will prevent tripping.
8) How heavy is it? Check out the weight before you attempt to lift a package. You can do so by pushing the object lightly or moving it with your feet to see how easily it moves. Small items sometimes are heavier than the big ones. If you can’t move it, get a sales clerk to help.
9) Pay the extra charge and have that big ticket item delivered. Large packages can not only cause damage to your vehicle but place undue stress on your back.
10) Make sure you treat Santa nice by balancing your child right in the middle of Santa’s knee.

This article was provided by the ANJC.

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