For many people, the holiday season means shopping, decorating, and wrapping gifts. These activities can cause foot and back pain, and in some cases may lead to injury. Below are a few suggestions from experts on avoiding foot and back pain this holiday season:
Dr. Bruce Pinker, DPM, AACFAS, FAPWCA, DABPM, a podiatrist and foot surgeon, says, “I see many patients with foot pain this time of year. One of the most common foot pain conditions is called plantar fasciitis. It is typically brought on by overuse — excessive walking or standing, or even running or jumping. Think of those waiting on line at airports or retail stores this time of year. With improper support in footwear, overuse worsens this condition. The pain can be so severe that it can prevent individuals from walking.”
If you’re doing a lot of in-store shopping or participating in outdoor holiday activities, you’ll want to take especially good care of your feet. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to prevent this pain by being kind to your feet.
Pinker says, “To prevent it, one should stretch the feet regularly. Rolling feet over a frozen 20 oz water bottle is helpful. One should also wear supportive footwear.”
Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, also recommends wearing good shoes.
“Make sure you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes with cushion and support for your feet when you shop because it will provide the same cushion and relief for your lower back,” he says.
If your foot pain worsens despite these preventative measures, there are other ways to treat it.
“In most cases, plantar fasciitis can be treated conservatively by physical therapy, stretching, orthopedic strappings, cortisone injections, or anti-inflammatory meds. Many also benefit from custom made orthotics. Some, in the more challenging cases, require shockwave therapy (ESWT) or surgery,” Pinker says.
Over the holidays, many people do a lot of bending and lifting as they shop, decorate, and wrap presents.
Carrying shopping bags for long periods of time strains your back. “Getting in a good stretch before and after a shopping trip will loosen up your muscles and relieve some stress and stiffness, making you less prone to the post-shopping soreness that can lead to further injury,” Anand says.
Another way to avoid shopping-induced back strain is to do all of your shopping online. Then, everything is delivered to your front door. Just be careful as you lift the boxes and take them inside.
With decorating or any kind of bending and lifting activity, Anand says, “Be mindful not to bend at the waist when lifting those heavy boxes or string of lights. ALWAYS bend at the knees, and try to avoid twisting when you have your hands full.”
Another common holiday activity that is hard on your back is wrapping gifts. Many people wrap gifts on the floor. However, doing so is not good for your back.
“Set yourself up at a table with a comfortable chair instead of sprawling out on the floor (this will prevent you from hunching) and wrap only a few gifts at a time allowing yourself plenty of breaks in between,” Anand says.