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Tips For A Happy, Pain-free Holiday

Dr. Harris BramThe end of each year brings emotional relief to many people. On the other hand, it can cause a need for pain relief too. All the holiday preparation, travel, celebrating and hosting can trigger flare-ups from pain old and new. Here are a few tips and reminders to minimize the chances of an unjoyful experience.

Carry luggage and packages carefully

Lifting heavy suitcase, gifts and food supplies can easily lead to back pain or shoulder pain. It’s important to know how to pack, carry and lift anything heavy.

  • If you have a choice, use luggage with wheels.
  • Pack lightly – only the things that are necessary. Try to use a few smaller bags instead of one large piece of luggage.
  • When lifting something heavy, bend your knees and lift it with your leg muscles rather than your waist and back. Hold it close to your body.
  • When storing luggage or packages in an overhead compartment, first lift the item onto the top of the aisle seat. Then place your hands on its left and right sides and lift it up.
  • To avoid shoulder strain, evenly balance the weight of a backpack. Padded straps help make it more comfortable to carry.
  • When carrying a shoulder bag or a duffel, alternate shoulders.
  • Carry – don’t drag – your luggage when climbing stairs.

Travel comfortably

Regardless of whether you’ll be sitting in a car, train or airplane, use lumbar support to ensure a proper sitting position to help avoid back pain. Place something as simple as a pillow between your back and the seat.

Make sure you’re sitting on your “sitting bones” and not your tailbone. A small cushion or folded-over towel can help. If you’re traveling by car, plan regular stops to get out, stretch and walk around. If you’re on a train or airplane, stroll the aisles when it’s safe to leave your seat.

Stop & stretch!

To avoid pain or to get pain relief, take breaks from cooking, sitting and chatting, or watching TV. Your muscles get stiff just like your joints, so loosen up with the stretching tips below. Warning: If you feel any back or neck pain or other discomfort, stop immediately! Same goes for all other stretches or movements.

  • Neck stretch – Sit on your right hand and slowly lower your left ear down toward your left shoulder until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.
  • Mid-back stretch – Slowly pinch your shoulder blades together for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. You can do this stretch every 10-15 minutes.
  • Lower back stretch – Sit in a straight-back chair with your feet on the floor. Grasp your left knee with both hands and bring that leg up toward your chest. Hold, return to the starting position, and repeat with your right leg. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Hamstring stretch – While sitting, extend one leg out straight, bend forward and reach toward your toes until you feel a stretch behind your knee. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Avoid alcoholic beverages

It’s not worth it for a number of reasons:

  • Alcohol can cause restless sleep and result in back pain that could last all the next day, or longer.
  • Alcohol interferes with many medications. For example, the combination of alcohol and painkillers can slow down your nervous system and respiration, and possibly hasten an overdose.
  • The liver’s process of breaking down alcohol creates dangerous by-products, which can damage liver cells and increase painful inflammation throughout the body.

As always, if you ever experience severe pain and swelling, or worsening or extended discomfort, call New Jersey Pain Care Specialists. An experienced and caring professional will discuss your condition and explain what we can do to help as quickly, safely and non-invasively as possible.

We wish you a happy and healthy Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year. Stay safe and pain free!

About The Author

Picture of Dr. Harris Bram, MD, DABPM

Dr. Harris Bram, MD, DABPM

Dr. Harris Bram is an Interventional Pain Management Specialist in New Jersey. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His postgraduate training in anesthesia was performed at Hahnemann University Hospital, where he sub-specialized in cardiac anesthesia. He completed his pain management fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.

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