From: Dr. Ruth Bailey
The holiday season brings with it lots of fun and exciting activities: decorating the house, shopping for gifts, baking cookies, etc. It should be a time focused on family and friends and not a time for worrying about injury, but for those experiencing back pain, something as simple as putting out a tray of cookies can cause fear of “putting out” one’s back with it. In fact, some of the most common activities that patients with back pain express difficulty doing include: bending, lifting, carrying, and doing household cleaning activities like washing dishes, vacuuming, and laundry. These are all activities that have to be performed during the holiday season if one is to get the tree up and the house ready for guests and the Christmas brunch prepared and Santa’s cookies set out (not to mention getting the house cleaned up once the guests are gone). Makes one wonder how Santa himself hasn’t hurt his back with all the work he does each year! Here are a few “secret Santa” tips for a holiday season that is happy and healthy for your back:
1. The phrase is well-worn and worth repeating: Lift with your legs and not your back! Squatting down to pick up heavy objects (and even not-so-heavy objects) like Christmas decorations helps to keep your back in a comfortable position with the pressure spread evenly across the discs and joints.
2. Use a back support when doing your Christmas shopping. It can be as simple as a rolled up hand towel, but having the normal curve in the low back supported while you drive from store to store (or click from online marketplace to online marketplace…) helps to keep the back relaxed and comfortable, preventing increased muscle tension and pain.
3. Use an appropriate surface for all your cooking and wrapping. Using a counter or table that is an appropriate height (3- 6 inches below your elbow) while performing standing activities discourages a slouched or tense standing posture and so helps the back to stay in a comfortable alignment, not putting any increased stress on the muscles or joints.
If there are specific activities that you are having trouble with this holiday season due to pain in your back or any other joint or muscle, we at Oahu Spine and Rehab would love to work with you to find ways to decrease your pain, improve your function, and enjoy all that the season has to offer! Give us a call today to schedule your appointment 488-5555!