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Don’t Drop While You Shop this Black Friday

ATI Physical Therapy offers tips to help avoid aches and pains

Like any good sport, the activity of Black Friday shopping takes preparation, skill, protective gear, and physical stamina! The early morning wake-up, walking, lifting, and carrying can be equivalent to a marathon for holiday shoppers. As millions of serious bargain hunters hit the malls on Black Friday this year, ATI Physical Therapy has some simple tips to help keep your body pain-free.

“Before you hit the stores, make sure you’re getting your body ready with nourishment and proper gear,” says Maggi Leise, physical therapist with ATI. “Enjoy your peppermint mocha to jumpstart your day, but drink plenty of water throughout your shopping extravaganza to keep your body and muscles hydrated. Be sure to keep a light snack with you to maintain your energy and fuel your system to snatch those bargains. Finally, comfortable shoes with good support are a must to absorb the impact of walking for hours on hard tile or concrete floors.” Maggie suggests stretching exercises to loosen muscles while standing in lines, and carrying a light backpack, messenger bag or fanny pack with only essential items, rather than a heavy purse, to minimize strain on your neck and shoulders.

Once the shopping begins, use a shopping cart whenever possible to transport your purchases. If a cart is not available, carry the bags equally on both sides of your body to distribute the weight. Avoid loading bags on one side, as this will place stress on your back, neck and shoulder muscles, and don’t carry them for too long. “It’s important to take breaks at least every 30 - 45 minutes,” says Leise. “Combine your breaks with trips to the car, and drop off your purchases to lighten your load.”

If you have to grab items from bottom shelves, be sure to use proper mechanics when lifting. Avoid bending at your waist by keeping your back straight, and bending with your knees. Keep the load close to your midline (bellybutton) and hug it close to your body. It’s always a good idea to test the weight of an object by pushing it with your foot to see how easily it moves. If it seems too heavy, get help.

Wrapping It Up
Remember that something as simple as wrapping gifts can wreak havoc on your body, so be sure to put those special touches on your gifts while utilizing good posture. Leise suggests avoiding the floor due to the stress it can place on the back, neck and legs. Instead, opt for sitting at the kitchen table, or standing at the counter. Like shopping, it’s important to give your body a break and take a rest from activity every 30 minutes. Again, performing simple stretching exercises will keep those shoulder, back and neck muscles loose.

This holiday shopping season, let’s hope the only thing feeling pain is your wallet. If you do experience aches and pains following Black Friday, and they last more than a few days, visit any ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a Complimentary Injury Screening. ATI will address your concerns, evaluate your injury and provide you with options for continued care. Visit www.ATIpt.com for a location near you.

ATI Physical Therapy is a nationally recognized orthopedic rehabilitation provider, specializing in physical therapy, sports medicine, work conditioning/hardening, functional capacity assessments, aquatic health, hand therapy, and women’s health. Founded in 1996, ATI began with one clinic in Willowbrook, Illinois, and has grown to over 190 clinics in seven states (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania). Known for exceptional results and innovative research-based programs, the motivating staff at ATI provides hands-on, personalized treatment plans in an upbeat and fun atmosphere.