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Reducing holiday back pain

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Posted at 7:39 AM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 08:39:13-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Whether you are carrying heavy packages, wrapping presents, hanging up lights, or bending over the stove, holiday activities can lead to back pain.

While the holidays are filled with fun, they can also wreak havoc on our backs.
“Whether it be that you are trying to get that perfect gift for that special someone or trying to create the perfect environment for the family and friends, people tend to increase their stress levels around the holidays. And new research has actually shown that stress can double the amount of back pain that you are experiencing because all the hormone changes that arise when you are in stress,” said physical therapist Dr. Anthony Avila.

Shopping, decorating and other holiday activities can take also take a toll on your back. “And so you want to be cautious, you know, that day make sure you're not overextending yourself a few days in a row. Make sure you do things that your body actually likes, like going for a walk, maybe carrying out some easy low grade exercises to keep that back loose, and don’t let it tighten up too much during the holidays,” said Avila.
Dr. Anthony Avila, owner of Avila Physical Therapy, says there are several alternative treatments to help alleviate back pain. One of those treatments is called dry needling.

“That is a newer thing that we tend to see on a rise in physical therapy. And so that addresses any muscles along the pathway of the pain that may be tensed up or putting extra pressure on the nerve,” said Avila.

Dry needling may look like acupuncture, but instead of directing energy, physical therapists use the needles to release tight muscles.
“We use needles, but we are doing it in a different way to address trigger points. And so we are going after soft tissue that we are placing the needle into the body with, and to try and alleviate any trigger points along the pathway that may be restrictive and causing extra pain on things like your sciatic nerve,” said Avila.

Treatment can take just three to five sessions to help relieve symptoms, while others can feel immediate pain relief and improved mobility after just one.
Avila also say to try and vary your posture. Research shows that changing your posture is the best thing to do reduce back pain.
Something as easy as shifting your weight can cause great relief to the back. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie so as to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities.

Experts say 80 percent of people in the U.S will experience a back problem at some point in their life.