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Holiday Stresses Can Increase Health Risks

The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) has issued helpful holiday hints and recommendations to ward off health problems over the holidays. Overeating was of particular interest as it related to physical stress placed on the spine. According to the release, "A bulging stomach can put pressure on your body support systems, including your spine and spinal nerves. Every extra pound in the abdominal region could put 10 pounds more stress on the lower back. This stress can last a short time, such as just after eating a heavy meal or lifting a package improperly. It may also become chronic, as heavy eating during the holidays may lead to weight gain, and carrying extra pounds can put added strain on the supporting structures of the spine and nervous system.

The release also notes that additional weight can force the pelvis and torso to shift and cause changes in spinal balance, leading to spinal misalignments (known as subluxations) and malfunction in the entire body. The ICA has prepared several helpful tips to follow. They are:

1. When lifting packages, firewood, or your frozen holiday turkey and other heavy items, lift with your legs, not your back. When lifting, hold objects close to your body; rather than flexing forward, maintain a slight arch in your lower back and bend at the knees before standing up with the object. That way, the lifting is done primarily with the strong muscles of the legs supporting the load.

2. When cooking or standing for an extended period, elevate one foot with a foot rest or stacked books, about six inches from the floor. Alternately elevating each foot relieves tired back and leg muscles--similar to the function the foot rest serves for customers standing at a counter--and helps prevent bad posture habits that can lead to abnormal spinal curvatures.

3. When traveling by car or plane, place a pillow or folded towel behind the small of the back to help maintain the arch in your lower back and support the rest of the body properly. This relieves the discs and joint structures of the spine from unnecessary pressure.

4. In addition to fastening your seat belt for car trips, adjust the head rest to align with your head, at least up to ear level. This is important to support and protect the head and neck in the unfortunate event of a sudden stop.

5. Get enough rest. Many health problems that occur with the holidays are simply due to fatigue. By simply getting adequate rest, you can help prevent structural strain, emotional and cognitive imbalance, and general health problems.