Pain-free holiday

Pain-free holidayThe holiday season is upon us. It’s supposed to be a time of joy and thankfulness spent with those you love. Don’t let back and neck pain stop you from enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. Try these five tips for staying pain free this ho-ho-ho-liday season:

  1. Shopping – Try doing the majority of your shopping online to avoid carrying around large, heavy bags and packages. If you do shop at a local retailer, take frequent breaks, wear comfortable shoes, consider putting shock absorbing inserts in your shoes to support your spine and make several trips to your car to store your packages instead of carrying them with you. If you’re waiting on the check-out line, avoid looking down at your phone so you don’t adversely affect your posture and strain your neck.
  2. Decorating – Decorating your home should be a team effort. Enlist the help of your family and create a decorating assembly line. Have one person hand a decoration or ornament to another to hang. If everyone has a specific job, it will reduce the amount of twisting and bending required to get your home holiday ready.
  3. Travel – If you plan on visiting family, send your gifts ahead of time so you don’t have to carry them with you. Whether traveling by car or plane, bring a small back pillow with you to support your lower back and/or a travel neck pillow. It’s also important to get up and walk around as often as possible.
  4. Overeating – Although large family meals and the holidays typically go hand-in-hand, avoid overindulging. Overeating can make your stomach to protrude and can cause a postural shift backwards, straining your spine. Repetitive overeating can lead to weight gain which puts strain on your back as well. Try to eat small portions to give your body time to register that you are full.
  5. Cooking and cleaning – Prolonged standing can increase back pain. If you’re standing in the kitchen for extended periods of time cooking holiday meals or cleaning the house preparing for visitors, remember to practice good posture, proper bending and lifting techniques and take frequent breaks. Consider prepping meals while seated at the kitchen table. Give yourself time to exercise and stretch. When cleaning, remember to bend at your knees, not from your back.


David J. BenEliyahu, DC, DAAPM, DABCSP is the Administrative Director of the Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital.