November 22, 2005
Physical therapist offers hints for pain-free shopping
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—A long day of holiday gift buying doesn’t just batter your budget.
Marathon sessions at the mall also take a physical toll, says physical therapist Joe Jacobson, director of outpatient services at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson and Flowood.
“This time of year we see people suffering what might be called ‘shopper’s shoulder’ or ‘browser’s back,’” Jacobson said. “They’ve hauled around too many bags or tried to wrestle something heavy into a car trunk and wound up straining muscles and joints.”
It’s enough to make gift-givers retreat to the couch and do all their purchasing via the phone or Internet. But buyers don’t have to beware of binge shopping if they take a few precautions, Jacobson says.
“The key to injury prevention is practicing proper body mechanics,” he said. He recommends these suggestions from the American Physical Therapy Association to ensure an injury-free holiday season.
- Test an object’s weight before you lift by pushing it with your foot.
- When you lift, keep feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees. Lift with your legs, not with your back. Stand close to the object, bend your legs, keep your back straight, and lift.
- If a back injury does occur, seek professional consultation from a physical therapist. What starts as a minor problem can become a recurrent problem without early intervention.
Shopping Without Dropping
- Distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
- Consider using a fanny-pack or small backpack.
- Wear comfortable shoes; carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries.
- Don’t lug overstuffed shopping bags for extended periods.