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Published on December 19, 2016

Woman with Neck Pain at the Office

Avoid Holiday Pains in the Neck with These Tips

The Christmas season is upon us! The lights, the festivities, the snow, special times with family and friends and our celebration of Christ’s birth: there are so many good things to look forward to during the month of December.

With that said, there are also many things that can be harmful during this month. Stress and additional work can literally be a pain in the neck. There are many ways to keep your neck healthy and happy during this Christmas season.

Here are a few considerations:

Cross-body straps help: When shopping, consider using a bag with a “cross-body” strap and only carry your wallet, cell phone and the essentials. When you use a bag or purse with a cross-body strap, you are able to eliminate the weight you put on a single shoulder and side of the neck, so you lessen the strain on those muscles. Removing items that you don’t absolutely need lessens the weight, and the ounces can really add up to pounds of extra pressure, even if you just have little items in your bag.

Watch your posture: While completing the little Christmas chores like writing cards or decorating cookies. When your head is positioned forward and down, it places extra weight on the muscles that support your head. The average head weighs 10-12 pounds, so your muscles are expected to hold that amount of weight during the day, but when your head is in front of the body, like when you’re leaning forward to write or decorate, your head can feel three to four times heavier for those muscles holding it up.

Be careful with repetitive activity: Whether it is baking, wrapping presents, cooking or driving to visit relatives, doing the same thing over and over makes tires out your muscles. When they get tired, your body finds ways to “push through” and finds the path of least resistance, which can lead to overuse of certain muscles or joints and possible pain, or even injury.

Stretches to help: While you must get the cookies done and the gifts wrapped, you can use stretches to prevent pain. When your work has your arms forward, take breaks and squeeze your shoulder blades together and make backwards circles. In between frosting each cookie, look upward and side to side to prevent fatigue in your neck muscles. You can perform “the prayer stretch” as well: place your palms together in the center of your body and slowly lower them to move your wrists and fingers in a different range of motion while writing and addressing those Christmas cards. Standing up from your chair and stretching backwards or going for a walk are also ways to prevent repetitive positions.

Remember to take care of YOU this season, because while it is a time when we think we have a lot on our “to-do” list, if we really reflect on what’s important, we can cross many items off that list. Be healthy this Christmas season and enjoy!

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