Five Tips to Avoid Back Pain While Decorating for Christmas!
Some thoughts ran through my mind this weekend as I was at my wife’s beck and call to deck the halls with boughs of holly. While I had to get into the nooks and crannies of our basement to retrieve box after box of holiday cheer --some small boxes, some big boxes, some light boxes, some heavy boxes-- I thought back to the patients that work hard to decorate their own houses, but pay the price afterward. Who cares about what you put your body through as long as your house shows that you have the most holiday spirit? Hey, Clark Griswold called, he wants his lights back! So, I wanted to jot down a few pointers to help you reduce the likelihood of you injuring yourself during this festive season.
prevention is key!
It’s easier to prevent injury than it is to rehabilitate it. Knowledge of what motions, postures and loads make you say “ouch” allows for you to avoid those painful injury mechanisms. For example, if it hurts for you to sit, avoid bending forward to help prevent the painful injury mechanism and to restore your tissue tolerance.
it's never okay to bend your spine under load.
Flexing your spine while carrying something increases your risk of injury. Bend over to put your shoes and socks on, but DO NOT bend over to pick up a box full of decorations. Instead, keep your spine in a neutral position and flex your hips and knees to pick up the box, i.e.. squat. You may also use a lunge position.
stay tall with your spine neutral when carrying something.
Don’t lean forward or backward and don’t allow your spine to bend to the side. This strains the back muscles and leads to injury.
wear a back brace.
If you’re going to spend the day lifting and moving boxes, wearing a back brace can be beneficial in preventing injuries. Braces support the abdomen and improve posture which helps to relieve stress on the back. It also helps to make transitional movements (i.e.. from a sitting to a standing position) more comfortable while keeping the core engaged. Braces can be found at your local pharmacy or here at VTFC.
Always use a ladder.
Reaching to add the star to the top of the Christmas tree may be successful but it may also result in overextending your back or neck! Try grabbing a ladder or stepladder to prevent overextending or stretching muscles in a way they are meant to be stretched. Make sure you use a stable ladder and always have someone at the base spotting you.