Christmas is a time for family and fun. So don't dampen your holiday activities by hurting your back or neck while setting up and decorating the family Christmas tree. If your spine or neck get out of alignment following certain activities, your chiropractor may suggest practicing common sense when setting up the Christmas tree to avoid injury or a sore back or neck afterward.
Be prepared. Know where you are going to put the Christmas tree before you head out to the Christmas tree farm or lot. You don't want to be holding up a heavy tree while trying to figure out where to put it. Nor do you want to move a heavy or awkward tree around any more than is necessary. It's also a good idea to have the tree stand ready ahead of time.
Get help. Take along a couple of family members or friends when you go to pick out a Christmas tree. You'll need help carrying the tree to your vehicle, tying it down, and bringing it into the house.
A large tree is heavy, and even a small tree can be awkward to carry. Besides the risk of hurting your back, you can pull a neck muscle from lifting or carrying something that's too heavy. Having help to load and unload the tree distributes the weight more evenly so that you don't put too much stress on your back or neck.
Experts point out that while what is considered the safe lifting zone is between your knees and shoulders. When the weight you are lifting is below knee level, lift at the knees rather than with the back to prevent back injury.
Share the load. Avoid trying to balance the tree alone while cutting down the top or trimming off the branches. When you're ready to stand the tree in its spot, ask someone to help you. One or more people can hold the tree while you guide it into the tree stand. By sharing the load, you put less strain on your spine. Kneeling down rather than leaning over to get the tree in the stand also puts less strain on the muscles and ligaments in your lower back.
Lift cautiously. When you go to pick up a box of Christmas lights and ornaments, stand as near to the box as you can. If the box is on the attic floor, squat at the front of the box, bending at your knees.
Put your hands under the box near the front. As you begin to stand, straighten your legs without bending at the back. Your back should remain fairly straight as you stand and as you let your arms and leg muscles do most of the work.
Place the box on a table or shelf, crouching down to place it there rather than bending from the waist. If you need to lower heavy boxes onto the floor, keep your back straight while bending with your legs. Lower one corner of the box to the floor and then tip the rest of the box toward the corner already on the floor while removing your hands from underneath.
Avoid overreaching. Place ornaments where you can easily reach them while decorating the tree. You don't want to have to keep bending down to get ornaments or twist your body to reach for them.
Prevent overstretching to place decorations on higher branches by using a step ladder or asking someone who is taller for help. You can hurt your back or strain a neck muscle by reaching around the tree or placing ornaments too far beyond your reach.
Take your time and work your way around the tree so that you are always decorating the branches where you stand, as this won't require you to overreach or twist at the waist or back.
Talk to a professional such as Beltline Chiropractic for more information.
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