Kelley Southard - December 01, 2022

Wrapping Presents 101

The presents are bought and need to be wrapped. You have no time for back pain during all those holiday parties. And while gift bags filled with tissue paper may be the alternative to wrapping all together, there’s something child like to tearing open festive paper. Wrapping Christmas presents is serious business so follow these simple rules and set yourself up ergonomically for the next three hours while you wrap your presents.

Rule #1

AVOID the FLOOR No matter how tempting that flat floor surface looks, sitting on the floor wrapping presents is a fool’s game. Leave the splits to the gymnasts. This position will wreak havoc on your SI joints tipping your pelvis forward, straining those lumbar discs and pulling those hip joints apart. Not to mention the daunting task of getting up off the floor. Even sitting on the couch, leaning forward over a coffee table to wrap is gambling with a bout of sciatica on Christmas day. Of all the days to endure radiating pain down your leg, you will miss all of the fun and excitement gift giving brings when your back has decided to flare-up from poor positioning during present wrapping.

Rule #2

BELLY UP to the BAR Gather the scissors, tape, ribbon and bows as you belly up to the kitchen bar or countertop. Find a strategic surface around the house that is waist height or higher. Avoid excessive leaning forward or reaching overhead as you wrap those precious packages. Surely Santa’s elves have ergonomically designed work stations for maximum productivity and worker safety. Treat yourself well by clearing the countertop for a wrapping session. Then, and only then, treat yourself well at the bar for a job well done!

Rule #3

REINDEER GAMES Whether you are tired and sore from holiday gift wrapping or shopping the sales, the following exercises will help make your spirits bright! Click the links for further illustration, instruction and video.

SNOW ANGELS Standing with feet shoulder width apart while taking in a deep breath (inhaling) reach overhead with both arms as high as you can, stretching arms backwards a bit. Then as you breathe out (exhaling) lower arms to your side.

Repeat this three times feeling the stretch across your chest; improving your posture and even challenging your balance a bit.

I caution patients to only repeat this stretch three times as so much oxygen being brought into your lungs can make you a little lightheaded and dizzy. This is a great stretch for your morning and evening routine.

This exercise is great because it pulls on the diaphragm, a muscle located at the base of the ribs and the major factor of breathing.

HOLIDAY HUSTLE Practice your agility, coordination, and motor skills each morning to improve balance this holiday season. Put on your favorite Christmas music while you get ready in the morning. Tap a foot out to the side right then left repeated several times, tap backwards , then tap forward. Get your body used to being light on your feet by evenly loading and unloading onto each SI joint while you briefly stand on each foot.

BACK to BASICS Let’s just start with some basic back exercises for ROM. Keep these simple and pain free. I suggest trying these before getting out of bed in the morning, and then before going to bed in the evening. Since they are free, try doing them a third time: during the afternoon when everyone could use a little siesta, take the weight off your spine in the afternoon.

While lying on your back in the bed, knees bent, feet are flat.

Bridges Lift bottom up, lifting off the bed. 5x

Alternating Knee to Chest Gently bring one bent knee towards chest. Alternate knees, 5x each knee.

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