Whether it’s from climbing one too many rungs on the ladder or making one too many trips to the eggnog bowl, an injury is the gift on no one’s holiday list. Yet the holidays hand out lots of musculoskeletal injuries ranging from neck and back strain to sprains and bone breaks. Here are some of the most common holiday injuries and how you can avoid them.
Back and neck injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that some 15,000 people wind up in the emergency room every year just from injuries caused by decorating. In addition, shoveling snow and carrying heavy gifts or luggage can cause back strains and sprains. A few tips… If you’re traveling with luggage, don’t over-pack. Use suitcases with wheels when possible. And be careful placing bags in overhead racks on planes—place luggage on the seat first and use your legs to lift. In fact, use your legs when you lift at all times rather than bending over, and your back will thank you.
Falls, slips, and trips. Each year, plenty of people fall from ladders, slip on ice or snow, or trip downstairs. In fact, about 33% of holiday decorating injuries are caused by falls from ladders, according to the CPSC. To avoid these injuries, practice good ladder safety. Inspect the rungs to make sure they’re solid and dry. Place the ladder on an even surface. And don’t exceed the weight limit listed on the ladder. To avoid other slips and trips, be careful not to over-imbibe—especially if wearing heels, lest you sprain an ankle, break a foot or strain a knee. Don’t carry things that obstruct your view and cause you to stumble. And be sure to keep a clear area around the tree as you decorate so you don’t trip over boxes.
Winter sports injuries. From skiing to snowmobiling, sledding to skating, winter sports cause more than 440,000 injuries each year, according to the CPSC. The most common of these are concussions, dislocated shoulders, knee injuries, ankle sprains and fractures, spinal injuries and other broken bones. To protect yourself, take regular breaks so you don’t overexert. Keep a keen eye on the weather, as inclement weather increases the risk of an injury. Also remember to use the proper protective gear and equipment, do warm-up exercises, and use the buddy system so you’re never alone when enjoying your activities.
Car accidents. The holidays are heavy travel times which result in consistently more automobile accidents. The sheer volume of cars increases the likelihood of an accident, so be careful out there. If you’re traveling to an area that gets ice and snow, try not to drive during those times, waiting instead for snowplows and salt trucks to improve the roads. If you can’t avoid driving in such conditions, slow down and leave lots of room between you and other vehicles. Be careful on bridges, overpasses and side roads, too as they can be more dangerous than highways due to black ice.
Shopping injuries. Believe it or not, holiday shopping can actually cause injuries. More shoppers in the aisles increases the risk of cart accidents as well as slips and falls. Take your time and watch out for other shoppers. With more vehicles in the parking lots, you need to be extra careful to avoid an accident, too. Injuries can also occur from carrying heavy bags or too many bags. Instead of carrying multiple bags around the mall, take them out to your car from time to time to give your body a break.
General overexertion injuries. Preparing for the holidays involves a lot of physical activity, from shopping and cleaning to decorating and cooking. It can be overwhelming. Add stress to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for potential injury. Try to get a jump on the holidays and spread out the activity so you don’t find yourself hurrying at the last minute. Also, practice good lifting techniques, and take plenty of breaks.
We hope these tips help you enjoy a merrier and healthier holiday season. But if you do experience an injury and need us, we’ll be here for you. Just call us at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment here. If your injury is urgent or new, please call to request a same-day appointment.