FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 24, 2011
(CHICAGO) — Who hasn’t seen the harried mother pushing a stroller around the mall while lugging a large purse and four shopping bags in each arm or the shopper on a city street dashing from store to store and accumulating shopping bags the size of carry-on luggage? While they are trying to make the most of a shopping trip by getting everything done at once they could be putting their bodies at risk.
Natalie A. Nevins, DO, an osteopathic family physician and neuromusculoskeletal medicine specialist, explains that when you are carrying too much in your arms you can be in for a lot of pain later and you make yourself more prone to a fall that could cause injury.
“When you are carrying more than you can hold or have an uneven amount of weight on each side, your posture is out of alignment,” said Dr. Nevins. “While the pain might not be immediate, a few hours after arriving home you will probably feel stiffness and pain in your neck, back and shoulders.”
Dr. Nevins suggests the following tips to avoid injury this holiday shopping season:
1. If possible, just put the essentials of debit or credit cards, some cash, cell phone and keys in a coat pocket and leave the purse at home or in the car. Purses alone can weigh 15 or 20 pounds. If you must bring a purse, opt for a smaller purse with a long strap that can be worn over the shoulder and across the chest.
2. Avoid carrying too many bags at once by depositing them in the car between stores or condensing items into fewer bags.
3. It is easy to lose your balance when carrying the weight of several shopping bags with a skinny heel from this season’s trendy boots, which could easily cause you to fall. Unfortunately, during the winter, you are at great risk for injury because your muscles are already tensed up from the cold. A simple slip on the sidewalk can become a major pain later. Wear a pair of flat shoes with a good arch support and rubber soles if you are going out for a day of shopping. This is especially important when there is snow or ice on the ground.
4. Items, such as large toys or a box being carried to the post office to mail, can create a problem by throwing off the body’s alignment and balance. If your back and arms are stretched out too far, your posture is off. A fall while your body is in this tense and unnatural position could cause major damage. To avoid possible injury, when carrying large items use a cart or ask for help carrying an item to the car. If possible, order the item online where it can be easily delivered to your desired location.
Sometimes even the most mindful shopper can overdo it by lifting something too heavy and end up with some pain and stiffness. If that is the case, Dr. Nevins recommends rest followed by icing the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes. Gentle stretching of the involved areas (without stretching to the point of pain) will help decrease stiffness. An anti-inflammatory medication also can be taken to relieve pain. If the pain persists, see your physician, who might recommend a hands-on treatment such as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to ease the pain and promote healing.
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About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.
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