For many of us, shopping during the holiday season can be equivalent to a major sporting activity. During the holiday season braving the busy malls and stores is a true test of endurance, mental stamina and physical strength. “The added demands of the holidays stresses the body, which may increase the risk of injuries related to the extra activities,” says APTA spokesperson and physical therapist E. Anne Reicherter, PT, DPT, PhD. She advises: “Using proper body mechanics can help prevent muscle and joint discomfort this holiday season.” As the holiday clock counts down, here are some tips from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to make last-minute gift hunting easier.

Shopping Without Dropping

  • Distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
  • Consider carrying a small backpack rather than a heavy purse.
  • Wear comfortable shoes; carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries.
  • Don’t carry overstuffed shopping bags for extended periods.
  • Consider using a shopping cart or getting help to carry packages to your car.
  • Make frequent trips to the car to drop off purchases.
  • Avoid prime shopping times to decrease wait times that can increase or exceed standing/walking time tolerances.
  • Plan your shopping trip ahead of time. Having a set list of gifts you intend to buy will help you plan for extra help, if needed, to carry purchases.


Before You Lift

Here are some tips on how to safely lift heavy holiday packages:

  • Test an object’s weight before attempting to lift heavy packages or luggage. Try pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy then take smaller loads, which are less likely to strain your back and are easier on arm and shoulder muscles.
  • Keep the load close to your body when lifting.
  • Ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects.
  • Seek help from a physical therapist if your back pain lasts more than a few days or gets worse.