Halloween….Thanksgiving….Christmas..Tis the season for more stress.  Lots of party planning, mammoth shopping expeditions, disrupted schedules and emotions that run high all have the potential to threaten the health of your spine.  Even if you are not prone to back pain or neck pain, how you do you keep it all under control?

Your Indianapolis chiropractor can advise you with these tips for managing your back health and ensure you can enjoy all the holidays as much as possible:

1.  Travel Light – If you will be traveling during the holidays ask yourself if you really need that extra book, laptop or heavy winter sweater.  The heavier your suitcase is….the more you carry on your spine….the more potential for pain.  Plus, who remembers their posture when lugging a heavy suitcase down that concourse or lifting a bag into an overhead bin?  Try using 2 smaller bags instead of one large, heavy one.

2.  Pack Well – Once you have decided what to pack, consider load balance.  Put large or heavier items on the bottom and inside and smaller, lighter things to outside of your suitcase.  The laws of physics will tell you that the further away a load is from your body, the harder you will have to work to carry it.  Carry your suitcases close to your body.  If carrying a shoulder bag, switch side to avoid stress on one side of the back.

3.  Think About Back Support – Seats in cars and planes do not provide the right support for lower back or neck.  Take a jacket, sweater or blanket rolled up for support of the lower back.  An inflatable travel pillow that fits around the neck provides head support while in a prolonged sitting position.

4.  Support Your Feet – Make sure your feet are placed on a firm surface while sitting.  If they are not, additional stress can be transferred to your low back and lead to back pain and a tired feeling.  If your seat is too high, try resting your feet on a footrest or something to act as a footrest so that your knees are at a right angle to your body.

5.  Check Your Posture – Sitting for extended time adds a lot of strain to the lower back and poor posture doubles that strain.  Make sure your back is aligned to the back of the seat and your headrest is supporting the middle of your head.  Keep your shoulders straight and avoid hunching forward.  If you are driving, adjust the seat and steering wheel to avoid reaching for the wheel.

6.  Move – The spine is designed to move so sitting in one position for a long period of time can cause stiffness and pain.  Get up and stretch every 20-30 minutes.   If that is not possible, even moving for 10 seconds is better than nothing.  If your back does begin to tighten up, try lying supine with your knees bent and lower legs supported.  Try lying on the floor, bend your knees and rest your lower legs on the seat of a chair.  Take a deep breath, relax and repeat….this should help alleviate the pain.

7.  Tips For Shopping – Nothing can dampen the holidays more than a sore back and neck pain especially if marathon shopping trips are in your future.  Most shopping areas are solid floors that can be murder on your feet and ankles so pay attention to what you put on your feet…wear good solid walking shoes, tennis shoes or footwear that you know is comfortable.  And don’t try and carry all your packages for hours around the mall.  Make trips back and forth to your car so you are only toting small amounts at a time.  If this is not possible, be sure and distribute the weight of the packages using both arms occasionally shifting the heavier packages back and forth.

8.  Pain Relief – If pain does occur, one of the quickest and simplest forms of relief is a cold pack.  Try filling a plastic bag with ice cubes and applying to the painful area.  Frozen vegetables are an effective cold remedy when wrapped in a towel and placed on the low back or neck area.  Remember to never apply any type of cold pack directly to the skin.  Tylenol or pain-reliever can also help take the edge off pain until you can see your chiropractor.

A trip to your Indianapolis chiropractor before embarking on any holiday celebration is always a good idea.  We can’t help you if you eat too much turkey or are required to spend a lot of time with the in-laws, but we can help promote a pain-free holiday if you follow a few simple tips.

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