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Avoid Holiday Dangers to Your Back While Decorating Your Christmas Tree

Authored by Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS. December 7, 2020

In a time when Americans are stuck inside, many have taken to the outdoors to cut down their own Christmas tree. According to CNBC, Christmas tree sales are up by 29% already this year! What better way to end 2020 than with a beautiful, glowing tree to signal better times ahead? With so many families partaking in the holiday tradition of decorating the tree, many don’t realize how much pain it can cause if done wrong. Follow these four tips to avoid injury to your back while decorating your Christmas tree:

1. An extra set of hands is helpful.

Whether you’re grabbing your fake tree out of storage or heading out into the cold to pick up a fresh one, trees are heavy and awkward to handle. When you’re trying to transport your tree, it is best to have someone safely helping you. In the same regard, setting up the tree is best done with two or more people. By having help, you don’t put your back in jeopardy of overloading or tweaking muscles. Keep in mind height challenges and assign high and low decorating accordingly.

2. Think before you bend, lift, and twist.

When it’s time to bring boxes of decorations and ornaments out of storage, make sure the proper technique is used to bend, lift, and twist. Flexing your spine while bending or carrying something increases your risk of injury.

  • To pick up boxes, keep your back straight and bend at your knees.
  • Don’t lean forward or backward while carrying heavy loads.
  • And avoid bending to the side when trying to lift or reach something.

3. Stage ornaments on a table while decorating.

By having your ornaments laid out on a table, you will avoid continuously bending over into boxes and overworking your back. When a back is overworked, you are at a higher risk of degeneration and inflammation.

4. Always use a step ladder to reach higher limbs. 

Instead of trying to reach up high to complete the upper half of the tree, or when adding a star to the very top, use a ladder or stepladder. This will prevent overextending or stretching muscles in ways they weren’t meant to be stretched. Make sure you use a stable ladder and always have someone at the base spotting you.

Following these four simple tips will help to keep your family tradition pain-free. If you do start to feel any pain, make sure to take a break and come back to decorating later. By doing this, your risk of injury from overuse decreases. If you do happen to injure your back or neck while decorating, our spine specialists at Virginia Spine Institute are here to help you with the most comprehensive care possible.

Dr. Christopher Good is a double board certified spine surgeon and the President of Virginia Spine Institute. Established as a world expert in the field, Dr. Good has pioneered the use of robotics, navigation, and augmented reality (AR) in spine surgery. He performed the first two-level disc replacement in Metro DC, Maryland, and Virginia region, and continues to evolve motion-enhancing procedures for patients suffering from neck and back conditions. Dr. Good has been named “Top Doctor” consistently over the past decade.  Learn more about Dr. Christopher Good.

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Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS

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