Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, and that means it’s time to get ready for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter season in general. Maybe you’re getting a tree, hanging lights or just decorating the home, and while these activities can be a fun way to get in the spirit of the holiday, they can also cause problems for our spine. In today’s blog, we share five tips for protecting your spine when decorating for the holidays.
Protecting Your Back During Holiday Decorating
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re getting ready for the holiday season.
1. Ladder Safety – If you’re getting up on a ladder to clean the gutters or hang lights, make sure you follow some safe practices while you’re up on the ladder. Put the ladder on flat ground, have someone at the bottom to keep it from shifting, and never climb to a higher rung than advised. Every year we see a few patients in our clinic that fell off a ladder, and we don’t want to add your name to that list this year!
2. Tree Smarts – If you’re going to cut down your own Christmas tree, be smart about the process. Consider bringing your own bow saw, because the ones at the tree farm are probably pretty dull from repetitive use, and a dull blade can put more stress on your spine as you cut. Also, consider having someone help haul the tree to your vehicle and assist with getting it in or on your vehicle, because trying to do it by yourself is an easy way to strain a spinal muscle.
3. Lift With Your Knees – Whether you’re carrying a tree to the car or bringing boxes of decorations down from the attic, make sure you’re using proper lifting mechanics. Lift with your knees, not your hips and spine. When moving with a box in your hand, keep your spine straight and avoid leaning forward or arching your spine backwards, as this will channel more stress throughout your spine.
4. Stay Warm – If you’re going to be decorating the yard, make sure you are properly dressed for the occasion. If your body is cold, your muscles won’t move as fluidly, and that can lead to problems like strains or spasms. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed when working outside in the winter, because you can always remove layers. Protect your spine by layering up this season.
5. Break Up The Duties – Remember that all the decorating doesn’t need to be done in one day. Break up activities to give your body a rest and avoid back pain. Decorating may not seem like all that physical of a job, but odds are you’ll be doing plenty of lifting, bending and twisting, and if your body isn’t ready for a full day of these movements, back pain can flare up. Break up the duties between family members, or do it in chunks over the course of a few days.
For more tips, or for help with your back pain, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.