The holiday season can cause stress on your back. For those who suffer from chronic back and neck pain, make sure you keep your spine in mind when preparing for the holidays.
Decorating is one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for the holidays. Putting up a Christmas tree, hanging lights and bobbles and then taking it all down can lead to back problems if the proper precautions are not made.
- Make sure you use proper lifting techniques when decorating. Make sure your legs are doing the lifting and you are keeping your back straight. To be more stable when lifting those heavy decorations, carry items boxes close to your body and do not lean forward, backward or bend to the side. Putting your spine out of alinement when carrying heavy items can cause injury.
- Use chairs, stools or ladders when decorating high surfaces to keep from reaching and straining your back.
- If your family is able, get them involved in holiday decorating. Not only is it fun, but this also makes it so you are not putting so much stress on yourself and your back.
COLD WEATHER AND YOUR BACK
Cold weather may lead to increased discomfort because your muscles tend to stiffen up in cold weather. If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy can loosen stiffness and encourage healing through increased circulation.
For example, you can:
- Apply a hot pack, warm towel or heating pad to the painful area. You can also use over-the-counter heat wraps.
- Make sure you are staying active. Inactivity can gradually increase certain types of pain. Swimming in a heated pool is a great activity that can help decrease pain.
- Wear warm shoes or boots with treads to prevent slips and falls.
- During the day, make sure you are layering up. Keep your lower back warm by tucking your shirt into your pants and wearing a sweater over your bottom layer.
- At night, keep your home warm and use more than one blanket to keep your muscles from tightening while you sleep.
If you live in a place where it snows, shoveling can’t be avoided. Shoveling snow without keeping your back in mind can cause a lot of injuries. Here are some tips to prevent injury when clearing your driveway.
- Use proper lifting technique and lift with your legs. Doing this will help you keep your back straighter because your legs are stronger than your back.
- Keep with the proper lifting technique and do not twist or throw snow. Carrying the show to where you want it is much better for your back.
- Watch how much snow you are lifting. Reduce the weight by lifting less snow at one time.
- Make sure you are taking breaks if you need them and swapping the side you are using to shovel to avoid overstraining yourself.
- Again, shoveling can be a family activity. If possible, getting everyone involved makes the work go faster and prevents you from overworking your back. Then you can use the extra snow, a carrot, some rocks and maybe a scarf to make a snowman when you finish.
Travel can be very stressful on your body, especially if you already have existing back and neck problems. The following are some tips for healthy and safe Holiday travel:
- Whether you are driving or flying, make sure that you bring something to provide support for your back. For lower back pain, the small pillows should be enough to help prevent slouching and the resulting pain. Neck pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to mitigate neck pain during travel.
- While seated for extended periods of time, try to change positions frequently to improve circulation in your body and avoid cramping. Massage your legs and calves and move your legs side to side and up and down when you begin to feel stiff.
- Similarly, shrug your shoulders up and down and back and forth. Take deep breaths and stretch your neck gently by moving your head side to side.