Avoiding Injuries with Holiday Decorating – Lynne Espino, PT

Avoiding Injury with Holiday Decorating Tasks


It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year again…time to get the boxes of decorations, lights and wrapping paper out of the attic, garage or basement!  The holiday season comes with many tasks in a short period of time; therefore it is important to learn tips to minimize injury and strain, at what can be a stressful time of year.  Whether you are reaching up to take boxes off shelves or to hang decorations or lights, if it’s done improperly or repetitively it can lead to pain in the shoulders, neck and back.

Before beginning any lifting or repetitive reaching, warm your muscles up, take periodic breaks while working, and stop immediately if you feel discomfort.

Other tips include keeping in mind the importance of lifting boxes and heavy loads correctly, which will help you avoid injury.

Proper lifting techniques include:

-Positioning your body close to the load you are lifting and keep it as close as possible as you lift

-Maintain the natural curve in your lower back

-Tighten your core muscles and tuck your chin towards your chest

-Lift the load carefully and slowly

-Avoid bending and twisting while lifting

If you are reaching a shelf or area above your head, use a ladder with non-slip pads on the bottom to keep it firmly in place.  If needed, bring the ladder up to the level you are reaching to decrease strain on your shoulders and back.  Work with someone else while decorating to make the task more enjoyable and safer.  Lift heavy boxes with a partner to lighten the load and keep your partner close by to hold the ladder safely as needed.  As you lift, use proper technique by using your legs to lift and keeping the natural curves of your back to avoid straining it.  Avoid decorating your roof or tall trees without professional help; most people are not trained or equipped to decorate high places, putting you at risk of falling and causing serious injuries.

Gift wrapping, another holiday task typically includes standing or sitting for long periods of time in an uncomfortable position, which can contribute to back pain.  To avoid this, set up an area in your house as a gift-wrapping station where you can comfortably work.  A tall table or desk works best to stand at, so that you can comfortably reach everything you need.  Wrap for short periods of time each day to break up the task and avoid muscle fatigue and strain until all your wrapping is done.

It is important to note that back, neck or shoulder injuries can occur because of poor posture, repetitive strain/lifting and/or poor working conditions/positions.  Therefore, being conscious of lifting properly and not overstraining can go a long way towards preventing injury.

These tips will help avoid injury and make the holidays more enjoyable!