Christmas is less than a week away and that means you probably have a lot of gifts to wrap! (That’s if you haven’t finished wrapping everything up for Christmas Day just yet).
For many of us, buying gifts for loved ones is enjoyable, but when it comes to wrapping it tends to be “one of those things that needs to get done”, which usually gets left to the last minute…
The curly ribbons, pretty paper, and colourful bows look great, and wrapping gifts ‘can’ be a lot of fun if you make an event out of it by adding in a little mulled wine and having Home Alone on repeat in the background, but Christmas wrapping can also be an especially painful experience for those suffering from back pain.
When I walked into the Physio Rooms Monday morning, I already heard one of the girls in the office complaining about a bad back after wrapping her kids toys, and one of our clients was suffering from an aggravated back after sitting on the floor in awkward positions for a couple of hours at the weekend getting all of the wrapping done in one go.
And if you’ve still got some last minute gift wrapping to do (because lets face it, there’s always another present to wrap up come Christmas Eve!) – here are a few tips to help minimise the strain on your back and spine, so back pain doesn’t keep you stuck on the sofa in agony Christmas Day.
1. Avoid sitting on the floor
We all do it. It’s our first inclination to sit on the floor with all the gifts laid out, paper, sticky bows and tape. But all that twisting, turning and bending over doesn’t give your back, neck and shoulders much support, putting unnecessary strain on your muscles – so instead of wrapping on the floor, take your presents to the dining room table and sit on a comfy supportive chair.
Using a table, or counter that is waist level will ensure you’re using your arms rather than your back and will help you maintain good posture.
2. Wrap as you buy
Ok, maybe this tip is a little late, but it’s a good one to keep in mind for next year – instead of trying to wrap all of your gifts in one go, break up the wrapping sessions and try wrapping your presents periodically or whenever you shop to help minimise the strain on your neck, back and arms.
Doing this will ensure you’re not straining your muscles and sitting in a painful position for a long period of time,
3. Use gift bags
Wrapping can be stressful if we’ve got lots of presents to cut paper for and make sure they’re presented “perfectly” – to help reduce the stress, rather than wrapping everything in paper how about using fun, festive gift bags along with some decorative tissue paper finished off with some ribbon for polished presentation?
Opting for gift bags helps to minimise all the cutting and stretching that you have to do as you maneuver rolls of wrapping paper, and takes very little time to do.
4. Don’t forget to stretch!
Yes, even with gift wrapping it is important to loosen your muscles and joints.
No one wants tight or strained muscles and simple stretching can reduce stiffness and spasms. Simple stretches like toe-touches and arm raises can help to loosen tight muscles. An added benefit is to drink a glass of water as you wrap gifts and pace yourself by stretching gently after each gift that’s wrapped.
5. Set up a wrapping station
Similar to the first tip (where I covered why you should avoid sitting on the floor) setting up a wrapping station is a game-changer.
All you need to do is gather everything you need to wrap your gifts, clear off the table and keep wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbons and any other materials you may need at arms length.
And if you prefer to stand, wear supportive shoes to support your spine and stand evenly on a memory foam mat, if you have one.
Gift wrapping shouldn’t knock you out of the remaining festivities! Try implementing these tips with your last minute wrapping so you can enjoy the gift of Christmas.
For more information and tips about natural ways to live with less back pain – go to my website where you can get a free copy of my back tips guide we give to patients at the Paul Gough Physio Rooms: www.paulgoughphysio.com/back-pain – you don’t have to suffer over the Christmas and New Year period.