Tips to prevent aches and pains during the holiday shuffle

Don't let joint pain put a damper on your winter celebrations. Here are six tips that I share with my patients:

While the holiday season is often a joyful time filled with friends, food and festivities, I often hear people say that joint pain and discomfort dampen their holiday spirit. Knee pain, shoulder pain and foot pain are common ailments that can pop up when we increase or change our activities as we prepare for the busy holiday season.

Specifically, pain from knee arthritis, rotator cuff tendinitis and plantar fasciitis can stop us in our tracks. Knee arthritis, most commonly osteoarthritis, is normal wear and tear of the cartilage in our knee joint, which causes pain and swelling to come and go.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles responsible for moving the shoulder. These muscles can easily get irritated with certain activities and overhead movements leading to sharp pains, discomfort and weakness.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue spanning from the heel to the toes that helps to support the arch of the foot. Irritated plantar fascia can cause aching, sharp and debilitating pain with every step that you take.

As the holidays approach, here are some helpful tips that I often share with my patients:

  • Wear comfortable, supportive footwear while doing those long shopping trips or extended holiday errands.
  • Try gentle stretching after increased holiday activities to ease tension.
  • When carrying packages, wrapping presents or doing chores to get ready for  holiday celebrations, ask your family, friends or neighbors for help. Overdoing it can put you at risk for injury.
  • For tight and sore muscles at the end of the day, try applying some moist heat to the affected area.
  • For swollen or irritated joints, try ice and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep. Enough rest will give your muscles and joints time to recover.

If you have joint pain or muscle tension that persists, stops you from doing what you need to do, or doesn’t respond to your usual home remedies, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of my sports medicine colleagues for an evaluation. We can help by assessing and treating injuries, illnesses and medical conditions related to exercise, work, sports and everyday life. We care for people of all ages and activity levels — you don’t need to be an athlete to benefit from the expertise of a sports medicine doctor.