Don't let the holidays be a pain in the back

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The holidays. A time for decking the halls, roasting chestnuts and, quite possibly, ice packs on the lower back. Yes, it’s time for your reminder to take care of your back this holiday season because no one enjoys the unforeseen back injury that slows you down when everyone is moving.

Let’s look at five old ways of approaching the holidays and the new things you can do to keep yourself off the injured list this holiday season. Now, keep in mind, if you have chronic back pain or are recovering from a back injury, check with your doctor about what you should and shouldn’t do.


1. Decking the halls

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Playing lumberjack, dragging your chosen Douglas fir, and loading it up on to the roof of your car can be fun. But, if your back isn’t up for it, it can be a major pain.

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Ask for help. You don’t need to be the hero all the time. A little help with that 10-foot tree goes a long way to keeping your back happy.

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Everyone loves decorating for the holidays, but sometimes, people make some bad choices when needing to get just a little higher to hang that ornament in just the right spot.

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Instead of using a chair or other piece of furniture to reach the top of the tree, use a stepstool. Chairs are meant for sitting on, and you don’t want to risk falling and hurting yourself when you’re supposed to be having fun. 


2. Shopping

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For some, braving the holiday crowds at the mall and other stores is a tradition. While getting the perfect gifts for your loved ones, you may be giving yourself sore feet and a painful back. Standing in long lines, walking from store to store, and carrying bags upon bags of goodies will tire your feet and back.

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Take breaks. Find a bench, sit and enjoy some hot cocoa for a little while. You can take a little time to plan out your next stop. If you’re able, take extra bags to your car, so you’re not carrying a lot of extra weight. And, if you have a fitness tracker that tracks your steps, you’ll get a good boost for the day.

And, remember to wear comfy shoes with good support!


3. Traveling

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Maybe you’re going to see friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. Taking a plane to your vacation spot is always exciting, right? But, overpacking a suitcase can cause a lot of problems. Shoving as much as you can into one bag can make for a very heavy suitcase, and the last thing you want is to hurt your back before you go on your trip.

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No one likes extra baggage fees. But, is it worth loading a suitcase up to make it weigh more than a car? Here are a couple of ways you can beat this: If you’re going home to visit, see if your family has some of things you may need to borrow—like hair dryers, curling irons, and the like. You may be able to ship a few things to your destination in advance, so you can travel a little lighter. And, finally, you can always pay a few bucks more to take an extra bag or two.

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When you’re going somewhere for the holidays, you’ll probably want to get there quickly. If you’re driving a ways, you might be tempted to stop as little as possible. Get going and get there fast.

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Sitting for extended periods is bad for you. If you’re driving, stop every couple of hours to get out of your car, stretch your legs and give your back a rest. You might even be glad you did when you find a scenic overlook to enjoy the view.


4. Wrapping presents and decorating cookies

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Hear us out on this one. You clear off the table to give yourself a big space to roll out the wrapping paper and get to wrapping package after package. After standing to wrap a couple of dozen packages, you might find your back starting to protest.

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Take it in small bites. Wrap a few packages at a time, and instead of standing bent over the table, sit. You can also try taking breaks when you need them—just make sure prying eyes won’t see what you’re wrapping.


5. Trying to show off

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Visiting family might mean seeing your nieces and nephews, which means a tickle fight and some horseplay might be in order. Or, maybe Junior got a new skateboard, and you want to show how you can still do a 360 Ollie Kickflip. Before you know it, your back is so out of whack the only trick you’re doing is parking in a recliner with an ice back on your back.

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Remember, it’s OK to put limits on yourself. If you haven’t been on a skateboard for a while, try reminiscing about your days of dropping into the halfpipe instead of trying to demonstrate. And, your nieces and nephews will forgive you for not doing just one more piggyback ride. 

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