Minimize Injuries over the Holidays with Tips on How to Carry your Shopping Bags
The holiday season is full of hustle and bustle with only a few days left to head to the stores for last-minute gift ideas. Whether you are shopping for gifts or carrying multiple bags full of food to a holiday party it is important to take the time to organize your bags and think before you carry. This applies to packages, boxes, and even small children, too. Weight distribution is one of the most important things to consider when figuring out how to do what you need to do while avoiding back and shoulder pain. Winter activity levels and injury risks are different for everyone, so be sure to take personal characteristics into account.
Below are a few tips that will help minimize neck pain, back pain, and shoulder/elbow injuries during the Holiday Season.
Top Tips for Minimizing Back Injuries
- Choose a comfortable seat. The way you sit in your vehicle matters, too. Twisting your back getting into or out of the car impacts the way you walk, and in turn, carry items.
- Bring your own lightweight but sturdy bags to put your purchased items in (such as a canvas bag, a backpack or a two large over the shoulder messenger bags). Bringing your own bags is better than using the paper and plastic bags given to you at the stores.
- Distribute weight evenly on both sides of your body. This means to hold the same number of bags on both sides of your body with the same amount of weight in it. Keep shifting items in your bags throughout your shopping trip to maintain even weight as you purchase additional items.
- Place heavier objects on the bottom of the bag. Make sure to place larger and heavier objects on the bottom of the bag and stack them up by size with the lightest and smallest objects on top.
- Avoid carrying > 15% of your body weight: Keep your load light and know your limits. If you are purchasing a very heavy item, think about having it shipped to your house or have someone from the store help you carry it to your car.
- Keep bags and arms as close to your body as possible. This will help minimize back and shoulder pain as you move.
- Maintain good posture while holding the bags: Stand tall and erect as if there were a book on your head. Good posture is always important especially when you are carrying heavy loads or trying to avoid winter activity injuries.
- Don’t shrug your shoulders. Shrugging your shoulders can cause unnecessary stress and tension on your upper traps leading to neck pain and discomfort. Instead of shrugging your shoulders, squeeze your shoulder blades together (back and down) and lengthen your neck.
- Bend from your knees instead of your back while lifting bags. During the holiday season, there is always an increase in low back pain due to improper lifting techniques. Make sure to always bend from your knees.
- Start prepping now and work on your rotator cuff muscle strength, scapula strength, and core strength before the holiday season arrives. The biggest risk factor in getting injured is having a previous episode of pain or injury that goes ignored.
Shopping Isn’t the Only Danger During the Colder Months
As beautiful as it is when snow is falling and there’s a brisk wind, winter can be dangerous, too.
It’s not only shopping and getting ready for the holidays that people need to be mindful of, it’s all of the winter activities that involve athleticism.
For example, winter sports injuries are common for people that ski, snowboard, and play hockey. Even sledding presents the potential for injury if your sled tips or you crash into someone – or something. Back injuries are common, but so are arm, neck and shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and even head injuries like a TBI. Be careful – even while you’re having fun.
Regular household chores are sometimes risky, too. With winter comes ice, snow, and the need to shovel. Shoveling injuries are more common than you think – so don’t forget to consider them. There are plenty of shoveling tips out there, but you have to choose the ones that make the most sense for you. Winter activity injury prevention isn’t difficult, but there is a lot to think about to do it properly.
Use Physical Therapy To Alleviate Back and Neck Pain
If you would like to learn more about carrying your bags correctly or if you are already experiencing pain and discomfort then book a physical therapy appointment on BetterPT’s clinic location tool. It is always better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to something like neck pain or a similar injury. An ache or pain can be fixed in just a few sessions. Don’t ignore it, or it turns into a bigger problem. Through the BetterPT app, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist without a doctor’s prescription.
Through direct access to physical therapy for winter sports injuries, you can find a clinic that is conveniently located near you and offers the best time slots for your schedule. Another advance? The use of telehealth services via the BetterTelehealth platform, a simple to use method for connecting virtually for each session.
Don’t delay, book today! And have a wonderful and joyous Holiday Season!
Dr. Marla Ranieri graduated from Stanford University with her bachelor’s degree in Human Biology in 2005. She went on to receive her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2009. She has worked with all types of individuals, including professional athletes as part of the USA Gymnastics Medical Staff. Marla continues to treat patients with evidence-based medicine and the best quality of care.