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Holiday shopping is stressful to your body, as well as your wallet, having the potential for a backache afterwards. Driving from store to store, getting in and out of the car, bundled in a sweater and winter coat, the expert shopper carries package after package from the store, to the car, over and over again. Six, eight, or ten hours later, the shopper arrives home exhausted, only to realize that 15, or 20 packages must be carried from the car into the house. This dilemma is compounded by the fact that the rain turned to sleet, and the sleet to snow. Travel by car and foot are treacherous.

You are slipping and sliding all the way from the car to the house while carrying multiple packages of various sizes and shapes. The shopping bags get wet and tear, forcing you to tilt your body as you carry the packages. Of course, no one is home to help you unload the car and you make the trip several times alone. You get into the house exhausted and crash onto the couch. You fall asleep slouched and slumped in an overstuffed pillow chair. Hours later you wake up with a stiff neck and a backache from shopping. You wonder what happened to your neck and back.

Consider the following:


Plan Ahead: It is very stressful on your spirit, wallet and back to do all of your shopping in the three weeks available after Thanksgiving. Even though we dislike “rushing” past Thanksgiving to the next holiday, try to begin holiday shopping in before 

Use the Internet: Supporting local businesses is important. However, Internet shopping can save you lots of wear and tear. Sometimes, you can even get a gift wrapped.

Gift Certificates: While gift certificates may be impersonal, they are easy, convenient and can also be purchased over the internet.

Perform Stretching Exercises: Stretch intermittently throughout the shopping day…try the three exercises below, gently, slowly, hold 3 seconds and relax, repeat 5 times.

Chin Tucks – Bring head over shoulders
Shoulder Blade Pinch – Pinch shoulder blades together
Back Extension – Stretch backwards

Model: Paul Mackarey, PT, DPT, Clinic Director, Mackarey PT

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

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  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!