How to keep back pain away this winter

Washington: Holidays are indeed a time to have a lot of fun, but additional stress and busier schedule may end up giving you that intolerable back pain. Now, an expert tells you how you can keep that pain away and make the best of your off-time.

William J. Sonstein, neurosurgeon and spine specialist, has developed tips to help keep readers`` backs safe and healthy during this season. Here are the do`s and don`ts:

Minimize or avoid travel-related pain

Wear comfortable shoes with good arch supports to help you walk long distances, and comfortable, loose-fitting clothes to help you stay comfortable throughout your trip.

Give yourself extra time. When you rush, you are less aware of your body movements, which can cause stress and strain on your back.

Don`t overpack. Take two smaller bags rather than one heavier big suitcase.

Be careful when lifting bags or luggage-bend at the knee, and don``t try to lift with your back. Ask for help when necessary.

Keep shopping safe

Shop during the off-peak hours to avoid having to stand on long lines and walk through crowded areas.

Make several small trips, rather that one large trip, to avoid stress and fatigue.

Distribute the weight of shopping bags evenly, and avoid carrying bags for too long. Remember to ask a store clerk for assistance with heavy or bulky items.

Sit down and rest if you start to feel fatigued.

Take care when preparing meals

Prepare meals on a work surface that is most comfortable for you, or at elbow level.

Stand on a cushioned mat or non-slip rug to avoid muscle fatigue and back ache.

When taking heavy pans from the oven, lift from the knees, not the waist.

Decorate your home safely

Take your time, mind your posture, and watch your step as you bend, stoop and stretch to retrieve items from your basement, shed or attic. Don``t lift heavy boxes alone; ask a family member or friend to help you.

Use a sturdy stool or ladder for reaching high places.