A festival of lights, a white Christmas, the word “holidays” this time of year will conjure up different thoughts for different people. What most of us rarely consider is that the emergency rooms are full of well-intentioned people whose holiday plans were ruined due to spine-related pain. As firm believers in prevention and since we want you to stay well and enjoy the season, we’d like to offer the following tips and insight into avoiding preventable neck and back pain issues from even occurring!
For many American families, holiday decorating starts the day after Thanksgiving. While many look forward to this annual ritual, did you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of people across the country end up in emergency situations while decorating their homes for the holidays. Most of these situations involve falling from ladders or reaching up for heavy boxes of decorations. Moreover, while installing holiday lights, injuries involving twisting of the spine are also very common. These injuries can be easily avoided by getting assistance from family members, using sturdy step stools, being extra vigilant, and avoiding to over-stretch your back. If your decorating project is especially large or difficult, always consider hiring a professional. Many handymen and companies routinely take on holiday decorating projects. While these services do come with a fee, being injured and missing work will likely be much more costly – not to mention how miserable a spine-related injury can make you feel!
The combination of short days, busy social calendars, a long holiday to-do list, and traveling makes sticking to an exercise routine during the holiday season even more challenging than usual. When you add all the extra holiday party calories to this mix, weight gain is inevitable. This scenario can spell trouble for anyone, but especially for those susceptible to chronic back pain, as extra pounds on the body’s frame can strain the spine and cause a variety of issues. The good news is that, by prioritizing exercise and eating in moderation, you can avoid holiday weight gain and the resulting stress on your spine.
During the cooler months of the holiday season, many of us do not make a conscious effort to drink hydrating liquids, such as water. While you may not feel as compelled to hydrate during the holiday season as you do during the summer season, it is important to remember that good hydration is important year round. If you will be enjoying soft drinks, cocktails, wine, and any other alcoholic beverages during the holidays, getting in the recommended eight 8-oz glasses of water per day (that’s about 2 liters) is especially important and will help to keep your spine (and your whole body) healthy!
Ice & Snow If you’ll be spending your holidays here in Maricopa County, you will likely not encounter any ice or snow. However, for those traveling to visit cold climates and for snow birds travelling back home to see family, it is very important to avoid slips and falls on ice and snow. Also, if you will be shoveling any snow this winter, do remember that exaggerated twisting by slinging snow over your shoulder can damage your spine. Additionally, lifting heavy loads of snow can result in pinched nerves. To avoid getting injured while shoveling, be sure to warm up first, be well hydrated, and avoid over-twisting or throwing snow over your shoulder.
Traffic jams, large crowds at the shopping mall, tension with relatives, and endless preparations – all of these common holiday scenarios are stressful and stress can certainly cause back pain flare-ups. To avoid stressing out to the extent that you experience physical pain, be sure to pace yourself, avoid stressful situations, and take time to breathe and enjoy the moment. If you feel your muscles becoming tense in response to a stressful situation, simply take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can also be great ways to relieve holiday-related stress.
At Stridewell Same-Day Spine Clinic, we wish everyone a healthy & happy holiday season. If you do experience neck pain or back pain while celebrating, please remember that we offer convenient clinic hours. Our Spine Specialists are happy to serve you or any family member who is in need of our services! Stridewell Tipsread article