The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Tips to Minimize the Aches and Pains of the Holiday Season

From: Big Buzz Idea Group
Published: Tue Dec 06 2005

The holidays are a joyous time, but for many, it can be physically and emotionally draining. This time of the year generally means lots of shopping, baking and hours of gift wrapping which can translate into a variety of aches and pains that ruin your holiday enjoyment.

"Many patients return to physical therapy complaining of aches and pains associated with the season. Usually these problems are the result of doing holiday related activities for prolonged periods of time," explained Michelle Dwyer, DPT, of Physiotherapy Associates (Chicago). "Most people will feel the strains of the holiday activities but ‘soldier on’ anyway which then increases the chance for injury."

Dwyer’s advice? "Listen to your body, and when you feel a strain coming on stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to stretch. Stretching reduces muscle tension and helps prevent long-term damage."

Shopping Risk: Foot and ankle injuries (such as shin splints and heel pain known as plantar fascitis) occur due to long hours of walking and carrying bags in high heels or uncomfortable shoes on hard surfaces such as mall floors, sidewalks and asphalt.
Tip(s): Be sure to wear comfortable shoes with good support. Stretch the calf muscle when you get home by sitting with your legs extended in front of you, wrap a towel around the foot and gently pull toward you 3 times for each foot, holding each pull for 30 seconds.

Shopping Risk: Trying to carry all your packages in one hand/arm or simply carrying too much at one time can create muscle strain in the neck, shoulders, forearms and back.
Tip(s): Balance the weight of your packages evenly between both hands/arms. When the load you are carrying becomes uncomfortable, you should take a walk to the car and unload. Not only will you remove the strain to your arms and back, but a brisk walk in the crisp air will help lower your stress level during the holiday season. Clasp hands together behind your back and take a deep breath while rotating the shoulders outward.

Wrapping Risk: Sitting/kneeling on the floor can strain on the lower back, leading to muscle tightness in the hips and straining the knees.
Tip(s): Sit at a table and take frequent breaks to stand and stretch.

Wrapping Risk: Excessive use of scissors and wrapping can strain the hands and forearms.
Tip(s): Stretch the forearm by extending the arm in front of you with the hand flexed downward (fingers pointing toward the floor) for 30 seconds; then flex fingers toward the ceiling for 30 seconds.

Remember to consult your physician for persistent problems or any time you question the extent of an injury.
Physiotherapy Associates offers free screenings at all Chicagoland locations. Call 312.944.7595 to find the facility closest to you.

Company: Big Buzz Idea Group
Contact Name: Melissa Kline
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 847.677.8273

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