Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Holiday back – some simple ways to alleviate back pain for the season and beyond

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Many of my clients have complained of back pain due to holiday preparations. The perfect storm of wrapping gifts, cooking and baking for longer periods than usual, wearing higher heels to parties, cleaning for company, and even prolonged sitting from internet shopping can all contribute to muscle pain.  The ergonomic position mentioned in my blog from 2 weeks ago can go a long way alleviating some of this pain.  Propping one foot on a stool or alternating between sitting and standing while cooking can help reduce soreness. Let’s look at some other common causes:

  • Having a weak back and abdominal muscles due to limited exercise and physical labor and/or prolonged sitting
  • Wearing a heavy pocketbook on one shoulder that causes disproportionate use of one side- check out this article for some great tips on how to avoid pain due to a purse that’s too heavy-
  • Sleeping on your stomach causing excess back extension and neck torsion
  • Stress resulting in chronically tightened muscles that support the spine and head
  • Having tight hip flexors, hamstrings, and calf muscles that limit movement in hips, knees and ankles
  • Lifting with poor mechanics and poor posture in general
  • Wearing heels. When I was in school studying occupational therapy, I’ll never forget the orthopedic surgeon who discussed “The fanciful folly of female footwear”. He detailed the many problems of wearing high heels- namely throwing posture off, causing an posterior pelvic tilt, and shortened calf muscles that cause pain and inflammation

These general stretches are useful between long periods of time in one position.


The following exercises may  reduce back pain :


Also try myofascial release for tight muscle that prevent you from using good form when bending- see this video to do your own release using a tennis ball-

Of course, it’s best to get a professional’s advice to discern what may be the cause of your particular back pain. However, more often than not, some simple stretches, consistent strengthening and being active can alleviate pain for many people.

During this season, try to do something good for your body by doing the above stretches and exercises. A little effort will help you focus on the cheer of the holidays instead of the pain in your back!

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