With the holiday season, right around the corner (3 Fridays left before Christmas to be exact, but who’s counting), long lines, chatty cashiers and arms full of bags and goodies are sure to be on almost every person’s agenda. While it is important to mark off a gift for every person on your list, it is also important to make sure your body stays healthy and pain free during the shopping spree. These three stretches will keep you running through the doors for those ever-anticipated Door Busters.
The Calf Stretch. Ready. Set. Go! With your sprinting shoes leaving all the other shoppers in the dust, you will want to make sure that your calves (lower legs) are in good working order. The gastroc stretch can be done leaning against the wall with both elbows on the wall, keeping one leg further back. The back leg will be left straight, with the heel on the floor. Then, the shopper can lean toward the wall until a stretch (no pain) is felt in the back leg. The soleus stretch is done the same way with one leg further back and the heel on the floor. However, this time, the back leg is slightly bent. Lean into the wall until a stretch is felt in the back of the lower leg.
The Chest Stretch. Not very many of us are Olympian lifters and we don’t claim to be, however, carrying around 50 pounds of toys, clothes and the latest DVDs may make one feel like she just entered the strongest woman competition. The weight from these gifts can sometimes cause back pain from being hunched over while carrying them all to the car. A quick stretch that can help with that upper back pain is the chest stretch, otherwise known as the door stretch or corner stretch. The corner stretch involves both upper arms parallel to the ground with the shopper facing a corner. The elbows are bent and the arms are on the adjacent walls. The shopper will then lean into the corner with the arms remaining stable until a stretch is felt across the front of the chest. The shoulder blades should be together and down in the back. The door stretch is similar except the shopper’s arms are in the side frame of the door and the shopper leans into the doorway in order to feel that stretch across the chest.
The Forearm Stretch. Whether it be the 35 pound turkey for dinner or the 50 pound life size pony for your little girl, any shopper may find that lugging around these types of goodies can take their toll on your forearms. A good stretch to keep you limber and being able to handle 2 separate runs to grocery store for those ingredients because the guest list for Christmas dinner just keeps growing and growing is the forearm stretch. With this stretch, the shopper will hold her arm straight in front of her, parallel to the floor, with her palm up. She will then pull her fingers downward with her opposite hand until a good stretch in the forearm is felt.
We all want the best for our families and friends and strive to find them the finest goodies during the holidays, however, it is very important to make sure that our “once a year shopping spree” can continue for years to come. Try these stretches out during this holiday season before you begin feeling sore in order to ensure prime shopping capabilities and Good Luck to all of you gutsy enough to brave the long lines and tough crowds.
By Stephanie Klein, DPT
This issue includes Warning Signs that Lead to Back Pain as well as a chance to learn more about new physical therapist Zach Long, PT.
This month’s newsletter provides A Guide to Back Pain, find out who won this month’s Care to Share and find information on our annual holiday open house.