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Shovelling Snow
Image by gautamnguitar via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, L.M.T., ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Shopping more than normal? Traveling to see family and friends? Taking a ski vacation? Or just shoveling snow, putting up lights and surviving the extra traffic this time of year brings? All of these activities may be out of your normal routine and may put extra stress on you and your back.  Read the tips excerpted from a blogpost below from Josie and Chris at Ann Arbor Balance Massage Therapy to safeguard your back and muscles as much as possible to stay healthy this holiday season!

Holiday Back Pain–Find Balance and Stay Pain Free

Back pain around the holidays can be especially debilitating as we all try to do more for everyone but ourselves. Taking a moment ahead of time can really help you stay on your feet this holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to pay attention to your back, taken from Dr. Alanna Levine and Dr. Marcus – primary care physicians.

Move Your Body
Long trips through the airport or in a car involve sitting for a long period of time which is very hard on muscles. “muscles were made to move” says Dr. Marcus. Take the time to get a holiday tune up massage. A great self care trick is to bring along a tennis ball and sit on it. Direct pressure helps relieve muscle tension, keeps muscles from getting tight through movement and keeps blood flowing through the legs reducing risk for blood clots.

Travel With Your Body In Balance
When traveling take the time to pack light and use a roller bag or two. By dividing your belongings into two bags instead of one you can carry the weight in a more balanced way. Pack a tennis ball (see above tip), move during the flight and take regular breaks while driving.

Lift Smart–Carry Light-Move Trips Means More Movement
Many small bags are better than one big one even when shopping. As you approach holiday shopping make frequent trips to the car to give your back a break. When carrying, balance the weight load. Lift smart -Bend your knees and hips, not your back, and try to prevent bending and twisting at the same time and keep the weight close to your body.

Warm Up When You Wake Up
For many of us sleeping in a foreign bed can wreak havoc on the back – Take the time to warm up in the morning before standing up. Gentle movement (yes, you should wiggle around!) while still laying down gives a chance for hard working muscles to be ready to hold you up when you stand.

Buddy Up For Tall Tasks
Decorating involves a long time on a ladder and a a lot of reaching – use a buddy to hand up to you to save your back. Any type of reaching whether it be down to clean or across as you cook is a hard on your back making very few muscles work very hard. Which is always a recipe for disaster over time.

Most importantly – Take Good Care of Yourself!
Pay attention to your body and how it feels. Drink plenty of water as dehydration can make muscles ache.

Although massage can help to relieve severe back pain once you hurt yourself, it will also keep you out of pain when used on a regular basis. Muscle tension and imbalance do not happen overnight they build up slowly with overuse and poor posture. Taking care to work out trigger points, or knots in muscles stops this build up. Just like getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis has long lasting results so does regular massage help with muscle imbalance and strain.

Read entire blogpost from Josie and Chris at Ann Arbor Balance Massage Therapy here.

Link to Interview on CBS News Early Show Interview with Dr. Alanna Levine here.

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