The holidays are upon us and with them, the added demands of the season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over 50,000 people every year sustain some sort of winter-related back injury, and 5,800 of those are holiday shopping and decorating-related.

Chiro One Wellness Centers cautions area residents to consider back safety while shopping and decorating. “Your back could sustain all sorts of strain from shopping 'til you drop and carrying heavy purchases, and from the increased stress of lugging suitcases, decorations and gifts,” says Jeremy Hayes, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Flossmoor

"Our bodies have the capacity to do a little more than we normally do, but our bodies do not adapt very well to doing a lot more than we normally do. Since the added demands of this season can stress the capacity of our bodies, we need to do everything we can to help ourselves. Eat right, drink plenty of water, stretch, exercise and take a few minutes to slow down and reflect on what the season is all about." Jeremy Hayes, D.C. and Chiro One Wellness Centers encourage you to consider the following tips to help keep you and your loved ones healthy and happy this season. 

Treat Holiday Shopping as an Athletic Event

  • Stay hydrated! Drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
  • Be sure to stretch before and after a long day of shopping or decorating. When you are stressed-out, your muscles are less flexible than usual.
  • Wear shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact of walking on hard surfaces and that will provide good support on ladders.
  • Make sure your clothing is as comfortable as possible. It's a good idea to wear layers, because you may be going from a cold environment (outdoors) to a warm environment (indoors).
  • Leave your purse at home. Wear a light fanny pack, or if necessary, a light backpack instead. Pack only those items that are absolutely essential (driver's license, credit card, etc.).
  • If you start to feel some pain, try the following treatment: apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.
"During the holiday season, we're running at absolute maximum capacity, which can lead to stress and even depression," says Hayes. "We need to stretch and stay hydrated to increase our capacity, so we are not overwhelmed by the activities of the season." 

Plan Frequent Breaks into Your Shopping Day.
  • During a day of heavy shopping, take a break every 45 minutes.
  • If possible, obtain a locker. Lockers can help cut down on how much you have to carry around.
  • If your mall or shopping center doesn't offer lockers, try to plan trips to your car.
  • When taking breaks, try to eat light foods. A salad and some fruit stave off hunger pains.
  • Skip the coffee break! Coffee and sodas contain caffeine and sugar, which add even more stress to your body.
"We actually need to eat better than normal during the holiday season," explains Hayes. "On average, people gain five to six pounds during the holidays. And heart attacks occur more often during the holidays as well. Eating a heavy meal and then running out on an exhausting shopping trip can be very dangerous." 

Wrapping Your Gifts.
  • Since there is no "ideal" position for wrapping gifts, the most important thing to remember is to vary your positions. For example, try standing at a table or countertop for one package, sitting on a bed for another, sitting in a comfortable chair for another, etc.
  • Do not wrap packages while sitting on the floor. Wrapping packages while sitting on a hard floor can wreak havoc on your posture, and should be avoided.
  • Always stretch before and after you wrap gifts.
"When wrapping presents, it's a good idea to 'stretch the opposites,'" says Hayes. "In other words, if you are leaning forward when wrapping your gifts, stretch backward when you are done." 

Stay safe while hanging those holiday lights!
  • Don't over reach. Use a step stool or ladder. Many times people want to get the decorating up and done, so to speak. Rushing the job can lead to mis-judging distances and over-reaching.
  • Move the ladder down. When up on the ladder, don't lean and reach. Keep your body centered on the ladder to maintain balance and decrease undue pressure on your spine and back.
  • Use a two man lift team. When carrying heavy or cumbersome ornaments or trees, ask for help. Sometimes even very light but very large items can be dangerous to maneuver.
Chiropractic Care Can Help. 
Some times the holiday season can be more stressful than joyous. If you do experience pain or discomfort as a result of holiday shopping stress, consider a visit to your doctor of chiropractic. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide treatments to help alleviate your pain naturally, so you can enjoy the holiday season as it was meant to be.