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While the holiday season is a selfless time of year, individuals are encouraged to keep in-tune with their bodies as the festive shopping, baking and cleaning often triggers bodily aches and pains. Fortunately, many factors that contribute to seasonal aches and pains can be avoided by practicing good posture and stretching, said Lisa Hoglund, PT, PhD, assistant professor physical therapy at University of the Sciences.
“People tend to get caught up in shopping, cleaning, cooking, and often forget to take good care of their bodies during the holidays,” said Dr. Hoglund, who is also an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. “Factors such as walking around the mall with heavy shopping bags, or cooking and baking for extended periods of times, each contribute to the seasonal aches and pains many people experience.”
Dr. Hoglund has compiled the following tips to help individuals avoid a painful holiday season:
- Wear comfortable shoes as high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries.
- Distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body, and make frequent stops to the parking lot to unload bags. If possible, use a shopping cart to transport your bags.
- Consider wearing a small backpack instead of carrying a heavy purse.
While baking and doing dishes:
- Choose a work surface that is approximately the height of your elbows.By doing so, the shoulders and back will be in better position, and lower the risk of straining those muscles.
- Avoid lifting and twisting. For example, when lifting a turkey from the oven, pull out the oven rack, lift the turkey closely to your body, and then take a few steps while turning to place it on a countertop.
- Frequently perform gentle movement exercises to keep the muscles in your back, neck and shoulders loose. Backbend stretches help ease back muscles after leaning forward for a prolonged period of time.
While doing household chores:
- Test an object's weight before attempting to lift heavy packages or luggage. If possible, try pushing heavy items with your hands or feet.
- Bend at your knees and lift with your legs when carrying heavy packages, holiday decorations, and grocery bags.
- Ask for help if something is too heavy to lift and/or carry.
Because some aches and pains cannot be avoided, Dr. Hoglund said it is important for people to set aside time each day for relaxation by stretching tired and sore muscles. They can also manage their aches and pains through rest and applying ice to areas that are sore from performing these types of activities.