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Ways to reduce pain (on your feet and back) during the Holiday season


The Holiday season is upon us, and you may find yourself pounding the pavement running from store to store or standing in a line to make a purchase. All of this standing and waiting in line can cause discomfort on your feet or back pain to act up.

Here, NEBH Podiatrist Ken Leavitt, DPM, offers some tips on how to make your feet more comfortable, while NEBH physiatrist Kevin Bernard, MD, suggests some ways to keep your back feeling good during the Holidays.

Plan ahead

Consider what shoes you are going to wear. When going shoe shopping think about the type of shoe and the fit. Your feet may be slightly more swollen in the afternoon. If the shoe you try on is comfortable during that time period it is likely it will be comfortable at all times. The type of shoe you choose is also important. Consider a shoe with a rounded toe. Shoes that have a pointed toe are narrower and constrict your toes, which can make your feet uncomfortable. If you have a hammertoe, purchase shoes that are a slightly larger size. This will allow for more room for your toes allowing blood to flow. 

You’ll also want to avoid shoes that do not provide arch support. Walking on a hard surface without the proper arch support can eventually lead to fallen arches, causing pain, swollen ankles, and weak lower leg muscles. Instead of flat shoes, choose a shoe with a one-inch heel differential (example: a shoe with a two-inch platform at the sole should have a three-inch heel).  To give your feet extra support try over the counter orthotic inserts. These can provide arch support and help to reduce stress on your back, legs and feet. If you know that you are going to be standing for a long period of time, wear a different shoe the day before.

If you normally carry a purse or bag with you, plan out which accessory to wear to alleviate foot and back pain. Bring a bag that has long straps or that you can wear across your body. This type of bag can help to take weight off your shoulders and distribute weight evenly throughout your body. Place light items on the top and heavier items at the bottom and if you can, bring only necessary items with you.

Lift only what you can handle

In addition, strain can be felt on your back from carrying heavy purchases or bags while doing your holiday shopping. To avoid pressure on your back try lugging a few smaller bags instead of one large heavy bag. This will help to distribute weight evenly throughout your body.

Keep moving

While you are standing in line, move around to help with circulation, especially if you are confined to a small space, and try shifting your weight from foot to foot. Once you have your spot in line your muscles can become stiff from standing and you may need to stop and stretch to relax your muscles. Before and after shopping it is also important to stretch. Try to take breaks and if you can bring purchases to your car. Don’t forget to warm up and stretch before you hit the ice rink or toss the pig skin at the annual family football game. Most importantly, have fun and stay active.  

If you experience any prolonged feet or back pain it is important to talk with your physician.