Have a lot of Christmas shopping to do? Getting gifts for loved ones can be extremely rewarding. But it can get painful if you’re not careful (especially if you’re trying to squeeze all your shopping into a couple of days). So, here are our tips to avoid joint pain on your upcoming Christmas shopping marathon.
Take frequent walking brakes
There is such a thing as walking too much! While walking is considered a great and relatively gentle exercise, walking around a shopping centre with heavy bags for hours can still take a toll. You might end up with general knee or ankle pain at best or tendonitis at worst - especially if you do too many shopping sprees back to back without letting your joints recover. To mitigate the damage, sit for a bit every hour or so to take a load off your knees and ankles.
For extra protection, you can add a pair of knee or ankle braces (or both), depending on which joints you find most affected by walking.
A good brace will have compression knit fabric (not neoprene) to stimulate the muscles, helping them better protect the knee through movement. The fabric also boosts circulation, feeding your muscles all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. So, you’ll get less muscle fatigue and be less prone to joint pain.
GenuTrain Knee Brace
Watch how and what you carry
Don’t walk around with a dozen heavy bags in your hands. If you have to squeeze a lot of shopping into one trip, wear a backpack (or better yet, a wheel duffel). It will save your wrists and elbows from being overloaded.
If you still need to carry a few bags on your hands, try your best to distribute the load evenly. Having too much weight on one side will knock off your balance and start straining your back.
And if you do start feeling like you’re carrying too much, make a trip to your car or leave the rest of the shopping for tomorrow.
Wear comfy shoes
The best footwear for an hours-long shopping spree is sneakers. A good pair of running shoes will have the shock absorption and arch support your feet need. Comfortable shoes will also help prevent ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain. After all, the feet are the foundation of the body. The better supported they are, the better everything else aligns and moves.
You can also add a pair of insoles to your shopping trip. These will be especially handy if your running shoes are approaching the end of their wearability or if you insist on flat shoes. Our ErgoPad WeightFlex 2 insoles will cushion your step and support the natural roll of your foot as you shop, helping you avoid pain.
Figure out what you’ll need to buy and where you can get it from to avoid long periods of aimless wandering. You should also see what stores are closest to each other and plan your routes to avoid going back and forth too much.
It is not always possible to foresee everything. But doing what you can will save you a lot of time and joint pain.
Mind your posture
This goes for physical and online shopping. Slouching puts undue stress on your spine, and the effect only worsens during long hours of sitting, when carrying heavy loads, and when lifting heavy items. To avoid back pain:
- Practice good lifting mechanics. You want to be as close as possible to the heavy item, crouch down by bending the knees and pushing your buttocks backward, keep your spine in neutral alignment, and lift with your thighs and glutes.
- Sit in an ergonomic space. The most important thing here is to keep your spine nice and neutral and your head upright. Don’t sit slumped over a laptop or curled over your phone. It may seem more comfortable, but your neck and back will disagree. To take good ergonomics a step further, sit at a desk with your knees and elbows bent at 90 degrees. This position will take some weight off your lumbar and sacrum and will not pull at your shoulder blades or upper back.
- Walk with confidence. Keep your chin up, spine neutral, and shoulders back while walking. This is doubly important if you’re carrying a lot of bags.
- Take breaks! Just as you should sit between long hours of walking, you should also walk around for a few minutes between hours of sitting.
Slouching can be a difficult habit to break, but it is essential for your back health. You can help the process along with core exercises to strengthen the spine’s support muscles. You can also try out a back brace. The LumboTrain’s compression knit design will activate your lumbar muscles, reminding them to keep good posture. The brace will be especially handy if you already get some lumbar or sacral pain from long hours of walking or sitting.
LumboTrain Back Brace
For online shoppers: stretch your wrists!
Long hours of gift research and adding to cart can damage your wrists and elbows. If you go too long without a stretch or rest break, you may develop conditions common to office work. These include:
- Wrist tendonitis - a tendon in the wrist develops microscopic damage from overuse and eventually becomes inflamed and painful
- Carpal tunnel - inflammation around the tunnel housing the median nerve (which runs down through your wrist and into your index, ring, middle fingers and thumb) results in tingling, numbness, and shooting pains
- Tennis elbow - due to how the forearm is constructed, your elbows aren’t safe, either. Long hours of clicking and typing can fatigue the forearm muscles supporting the epicondyle tendons, leading to pain and inflammation.
So, every 30 minutes of shopping, rest your hands for 5 minutes or do a few stretches. The Median Nerve Glide, Shakes, and Wrist Flexion and Extension are good for relieving muscle tension and taking some pressure off your wrists. See how to do them in our carpal tunnel article.
Take it a step further with a wrist brace. The ManuTrain will help your forearm muscles work better and longer to protect delicate tissues in the wrists and elbows. Its strap will also be a lot more comfortable to rest your wrist on the edge of a desk or keyboard!
To sum up
Christmas shopping is often a marathon, not a sprint. And like a marathon, not preparing properly and practising bad mechanics can cause joint pain (sometimes in unexpected places). So, make sure to plan ahead, don’t carry too much, keep a good posture, and protect yourself with good shoes and a brace or two.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products. Check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry.