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Holiday shopping can be tough on your wallet. But did you ever consider how your wallet might be equally tough on you, especially your back? George Costanza famously suffered from back pain after carrying an overstuffed wallet in one episode of “Seinfeld.”

And what about those heavy packages that weigh you down as you’re traipsing through the mall? All that extra baggage can cause pain in your lower back and throughout your body.

What to Do With Your Wallet or Purse

“Before you go out shopping, clean out your wallet,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, D.P.T., chief of physical therapy at Harvard University in Cambridge. “Thick wallets carried in your back pocket can press on the sciatic nerve and cause back pain. Instead, keep it thin and in your front pocket, and put your shopping receipts in a separate pocket.”

Those who prefer carrying a handbag should leave the heavy purse at home, she adds, because “wearing it on one side can make you asymmetrical and lead to back pain.” Instead, she suggests wearing a smaller passport-type of purse or wallet that holds just a cell phone, credit card, and driver’s license.

“Something light and over the shoulder that is not heavy and won’t pull on anything,” Wilmarth says, “and wear it diagonally across your body. Wearing any purse, no matter how small, like a necklace can bring your head forward too much.”

Using a fanny pack is also okay, but don’t be tempted to pack it with too many items, and put it in front where you can get to cards and receipts easily.

Shopping Strategies

Go earlier in the day when you’re fresh, not after work when you’re completely exhausted. “Your back is more at risk of being injured if you’re already tired and have been sitting all day,” Wilmarth says.

Bring along two large bags that are lightweight but sturdy with thick plastic handles, Wilmarth advises. They are easier on your hands than ribbon or rope handles, which can dig into them. Use these to consolidate your purchases. (But don’t put too much into any one bag, which can make it too heavy.)

Use a shopping cart if one is available.

Don’t lift clothing off the rack and inspect it by holding it up in front of you at arm’s length. “If it’s held away from your body, a 10-pound item dangling from your hands can feel like 30 pounds. And that puts a lot of strain on your upper back,” Wilmarth says. Instead, make use of what’s in the store. Hang an item from the end of the rack to give it a better look or drape it on a table.

Carry your purchases right in front of you as close to your body as possible. “That causes the least amount of stress on your body,” she says. “The closer the package is to you, the less stress will go down your torso and the discs in your lower back.” If it’s heavy, the smartest move for your muscles is to bring your purchase right to your car.

Put multiple items in bags on either side of your body so that the weight is evenly distributed.

Take a break every hour. Wilmarth suggests doing these two little exercises: Put your hands on your lower back toward your pants pockets and gently arch your back by extending it as far as you can comfortably a few times for about 30 seconds. To relieve the tension in the muscles that go down to the wrists from holding packages, put your arms out in front of you, with fingers straight, then point them toward the floor. Hold for 20 or 30 seconds. Repeat, but this time hold while making a fist.

How to Wrap Gifts

Wilmarth says the biggest mistake that people make is sitting on the floor to wrap gifts. “It sounds like fun, sitting around the fire on the floor, but it can lead to back, neck, and hip pain,” she says.

Instead, put your items on a table and get as close as you can to it, and try not to lean forward too much. If you’re standing, place one foot on a stepstool to relieve back pressure. And remember to take breaks and walk around.

SOURCE: http://www.consumerreports.org/back-pain/lower-back-pain-causes-holiday-shopping/

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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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To learn more about Long Island Spine Specialists – and to discover how we can relieve your pain and help you find an improved quality of life – please contact our office today and schedule a consultation.

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