It's that time of year again! Time to spend hours wandering around the mall, standing in line, and lugging heavy bags around in order to show your loved ones how much you care this holiday season. It's well worth it, but wouldn't it be great to get that shopping done without so much pain? Here are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable.
1) Wear the best tennis shoes you have. Think about it, you'll be standing and walking for hours on end. You need to have the most supportive footwear on your feet in order for your entire skeleton to be as supported and help you maintain proper posture. Sure, you may have some boots or Tom's that are really comfortable on your feet, but that won't do. They don't have the cushion, arch support, and/or stability to get the job done. So lace up those New Balance 1080s and get ready to get all 10,000 steps for your day in an hour!
2) Don't carry so much. Walking around with heavy bags, or even just a purse, changes our gait. When there is something in our hands or on our shoulder, we stop swinging our arms when we walk. This cuts down on our momentum and makes us use more energy to keep walking. It also places a lot of tension in our lower backs where the rotating part of our pelvis and lower spine meet the rigid upper spine. It's best to carry things in cross body bags. This keeps our arms free to swing. If you must carry bags, try to keep them light in weight and have them equally distributed between both arms. This way, your trunk won't be pulled over to one side. Try to make as many trips to the car as possible to drop off your gifts.
3) Stand correctly. Anytime we stand longer than a few minutes, especially when we're tired from standing in boring lines for some time, we tend to get lazy with our posture. We will move our hips forward, lean back in our trunks a bit, and lock out our knees in order to "hang" on our ligaments instead of using our muscles to keep us up. Combat this by shifting your weight onto your heels. By simply moving your weight onto your heels, you'll notice that naturally stand up straighter and feel less strain on your back.
4) Take breaks. Our bodies are not meant to be in one position for more than 20 minutes or so. The more standing and walking we do, the more tired our bodies become and the more our posture deteriorates. Take a break and let your muscles rest. Go get a cup of coffee or simply sit down and people watch for a few minutes. Try to do this before you start to feel physically tired. We want to fight fatigue as early as possible.
5) Heal your body ASAP. It's inevitable that your body will eventually become tired and may develop some pain. Make an appointment with your Integrate 360 PT or do your exercises to correct any compensation patterns or soft tissue irritation you have developed as soon as possible. It's always easiest to heal pain when addressed quickly.
Happy shopping and holidays!!!
Written by Lesley Callaham, MPT
November 28, 2017