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Dealing with back pain while you’re out shopping can be a real challenge. If shopping used to be enjoyable for you, back pain can really get in the way of the enjoyment of a lot of things in your life. Equally, if you didn’t enjoy shopping to begin with, it can make the experience a lot less bearable. There are definitely things you can implement that help to prevent back pain cases from occurring while you’re out shopping, as well as quick fixes that can make your shopping experience a better one.

The number one factor that can come into play when you’re out shopping is posture. Posture can have a massive effect on experiencing back or neck pain, if you have bad posture in any aspect of life whether that’s out shopping, when you’re at home relaxing in the evening, on your phone during your commute or when you’re sat leaning on your desk, all of these activities can put a lot of pressure on areas of the spine that are not designed to be able to deal with that amount of stress.

Importance of Good Posture

Your spine is naturally positioned in a way that allows it to effectively distribute weight effectively, if you deviate from this natural alignment through consistently bad posture, then areas of the spine become compromised that aren’t designed to take the pressure. Eventually, this can lead to discs becoming squashed in those areas of the spine, commonly the neck and lower back, and lead to disc bulges or eventually sciatic symptoms referring nerve pain into the lower body. Take this example into shopping, if you’re wandering around and carrying your shopping badly, perhaps leaning back or slouching forwards, you’re putting more stress and strain on your spine structure and on your muscles. It makes sense that if you don’t spend 3, 4 or 5 hours wandering around the shops and it’s only an activity that you do every once in awhile, that it’s a lot of activity – that’s something you might not appreciate while you’re actually out shopping and wondering why you’re getting this kind of problem. It’s a lot more physical activity than what you would probably normally do on a daily basis, you’re stood up for a lot longer perhaps bending over looking at things on displays, carrying multiple bags of which some may be heavier than others – all this puts extra fatigue and pressure on your muscles and causes them to stop being able to effectively protect your spine. This is often why you get inflammation and that sort of pain in the lower back quite often.

How To Fix Your Posture

To fix the problem: be aware of your posture. Stand up straight, chest out, tall posture with your shoulders back and try not to slouch forward. This tip is something you should be trying to implement all the time, not just while you’re out shopping. If you’re at your desk at work and find yourself slouching, check in with yourself multiple times during the day, if your weakness is staring down at your phone for an hour during your commute consider buying a pop-socket – a simple tool that sticks on the back of your phone to make it easier to hold your phone in front of your face. If you can correct your posture the rest of the time, it will make shopping easier while simultaneously helping to prevent any further damage from occurring in your spine.

Taking Frequent Breaks

Where possible, to help your posture as much as possible, you might want to consider making regular trips back to the car if you’re going out shopping for a long period of time or looking to buy multiple things. Instead of loading up pressure on your spine by gradually picking up more shopping bags, this means you never carry more than you can realistically handle. If you were to go into the gym you wouldn’t go and pick up a heavy weight straight away, so don’t do the same when you’re out shopping. If you know that shopping bags affect your back or neck pain significantly, perhaps think about browsing first to decide what you’re going to buy so you can then buy them all in one go and return to the car – that way you’re not carrying the bags for any longer than you need to. Perhaps you can also pick what you want to buy and then order online if it’s convenient for you to do so, so that you’re not stuck getting them home or walking for long periods holding bags that are too heavy for you to comfortably handle and keep good posture. If you try to do an exercise with a weight at the gym that’s too heavy for you, it’s normal to start compensating by using other parts of your body to help you perform the exercise – this isn’t good at the gym and certainly isn’t if you’re trying to help your back.

Strengthening Your Back & Core

The next step to try to help you when you’re in this kind of situation is to recognise that your muscles are failing to deal with the load that you’re putting them under, so you need to do something to strengthen them up. The most important muscles to strengthen in order to help relieve your back pain, is your core, your legs, and your upper back so you’re able to carry more load. This goes for whether you’re training in the gym, carrying shopping bags or simply carrying every day items. In a lot of cases, back pain can occur in combination with having weaker back and core muscles. If your body is used to carrying extra weight during exercise and your core is stronger, then you’re going to be able to support your body more effectively when you’re shopping and have less trouble in the long run. If you’d like to strengthen your back and core muscles, we often recommend reformer pilates as there’s a strong emphasis on keeping the back in a good position and is very good for beginners. We also offer our own back and core strengthening program called the Back in Shape program which you can find here, or you can go to the gym and strengthen the muscles that support your spine so that when you perform certain activities you’re more effective and doing less damage.

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Leg Length Discrepancy & Back Pain

The last thing to look out for would be a slightly different problem, more related to your leg length than your back, but it’s the way that your leg length can affect your spine that can cause problems later on. We do find that patients with a leg length discrepancy – where one leg is longer than the other leg, will suffer a little bit more when going out shopping because of how your spine drops on one side. It’s a constant ambling around and then stood still, ambling around then stood still, that really builds pressure in the lower back and can end up giving you a bit of trouble by the end of the day. This type of leg length issue shouldn’t be measured just by a practitioner solely visualising the difference in leg length while you’re lying down or standing – the only accurate way to get a clear measurement of how bad the leg length discrepancy is, is by getting some proper scans done. Measuring your legs with a tape measure just isn’t going to be enough in this situation, and we have a whole article on why this would be inaccurate. In a patient where a leg length discrepancy is present, putting a heel raise in their shoe can make a massive difference almost instantaneously.

If you find yourself struggling with your back pain on a regular basis and you’re not sure where to start, start with taking regular breaks during your shopping trip. Sit down, have a tea or coffee, perhaps plan it so you can stop for a rest for some lunch while you’re on your way round, and don’t just try to rush around trying to get everything done in one or two hours without taking a break. If you can do those things at least, you should have a much more pleasant shopping experience and actually enjoy yourself, rather than being worried about your back the whole time. We hope this article has been helpful for you, if you have any other questions about any particular area you’re struggling with, do get in touch with us. You can either email us at info@themayfairclinic.com, call us on 0203 947 3222 or fill out a contact form on our website. Don’t forget to hit the share options below if you found it helpful, or know someone suffering with back or neck pain who might need our help.