Preventing Back Pain This Holiday Season

This post was written by Shannon Ames, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Neurological Clinical Specialist at Jefferson Rehabilitation

Are you dreading carrying those holiday decorations down from the attic? You know you’re going to pay for later with a sore back. This year, take the right steps to prevent the agony.

Follow these few simple techniques to prevent injury:

Lift from the legs: We all know we’re supposed to do it, but we take the shortcut instead by bending over. Our back muscles were designed to support and stabilize, not to pick up heavy objects. Perform a squat to engage the larger muscles in your legs (quads and hamstrings) when lifting.

holiday decorations in a boxCarry heavy boxes close to your body: Remember learning about lever arms in high school physics? The further out from your body the load is, the heavier it is. When carrying a heavy box, keep it in close to your body in order to protect your back.

Avoid Twisting: When moving/placing objects it’s best not to turn your whole body. A good trick is to keep your toes and nose pointed in the same direction as what you are carrying.

Get assistance: This may be obvious, but a second person is not always around so plan in advance. Lifting extra heavy or awkwardly sized items can be tricky, another set of hands (and eyes) can go a long way in getting the job done.

Prevent the pain by starting with a strong core:

1. Clamshell

Lie on your side with hips and knees bent. Keep feet together, lift top knee. Be mindful not to roll back as you lift the top knee. Hold for 5 seconds. Perform 10-15 reps, 3 sets.

group of women performing plank exercise

2. Plank

Perform on hands or on elbows if you have wrist pain, or if starting on your hands is too difficult. Remember to keep your body in a straight line – avoid butt up in the air or sinking down to the floor. Hold 30-60 seconds, repeat 3 times.

3. Side Plank

Perform from knees as a beginner exercise, progress onto feet as you get stronger. Again, remember to keep your body in a straight line. Hold 30-60 seconds, repeat 3 times on each side.

4. Bridges

woman performing bridge exercise

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your butt up, while keeping knees pointed to the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds. Perform 10-15 reps, 3 sets.

5. Supermans

Lie on your stomach, lift one arm and opposite leg up off the floor. Hold for a count of 2, then relax. Perform 10-15 reps on each side, 3 sets.

Use these tips this holiday season and your back will thank you! To find a Jefferson Rehabilitation location close to you, visit here.

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