HOUSTON (Nov. 16, 2010) – Not making the “good” list for many this holiday season are sore arms, aching shoulders and painful backs. Whether it’s shopping for that perfect gift, carrying bags and packages or decorating your home for the holidays, people will bend and stand awkwardly or improperly while carrying out these activities.
To avoid the likely aches and pains associated with holiday efforts, senior physical therapists with the Rehabilitation Services Department at Quentin Mease Community Hospital, part of the Harris County Hospital District, offer some preventive tips for the season through an informative 5:30-minute video.
TJ Pelton, PT, MS, OCS, FAAOMPT, senior physical therapist, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, recommends shoppers use common sense when lifting packages.
“Use good posture, good support and proper lifting techniques to make your holidays pain free,” he said. “No one wants to worry about back pain when enjoying family and friends.”
Some simple tips:
- Try to always stand straight, preferably on a firm, even surface, with your chest out and your shoulders back.
- Slouching, twisting or over-reaching can put too much pressure on your vertebrae and your back muscles.
- If standing for long periods of time, try leaning on something solid that’s able to support your weight.
- Rest your feet and legs by putting one of your feet on a footstool or similar object.
- These simple steps can help reduce fatigue when standing for a long time.
Chris Dewey, PT, MS, OCS, FAAOMPT, senior physical therapist, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, cautions against overdoing it when lifting even what seems like a light package.
“The technique of lifting items with your legs and not with your back will help you get through the holidays without pain,” he said.
Some lifting tips:
Check object before you try to lift it
- Test every load before you lift by pushing the object lightly with your hands or feet to see how easily it moves. This tells you about how heavy it is.
- Remember, a small size does not always mean a light load.
Make sure the package is packed correctly
- Loose pieces inside a box can cause accidents if the box becomes unbalanced.
Can you grip the package?
- Be sure you have a tight grip on the object before you lift it.
- Handles applied to the object may help you lift it safely.
When lifting a package
- Get as close as you can to the package — slide it toward you if you can.
- Don't arch your back — avoid reaching out for an object.
- Do the work with your legs and your arms — not your back.
Best way to pick up an object
- Use slow and smooth movements. Hurried, jerky movements can strain the muscles in your back.
- Squat to the ground to keep the object close to your body.
- While facing the object, lift with your legs, not your back.
- Don’t twist your body while lifting or setting the object down.
- Keep your back straight.
- If carrying the object, do so in the space between your shoulder and your waist.
For a demonstration of proper lifting techniques and simple exercises to strengthen shoulder and back muscles, visit the Harris County Hospital District’s Facebook site.