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The Therapist Is In:Don't get wrapped up in pain this holiday season

The Therapist Is In
Don't get wrapped up in pain this holiday season
by Shannon Murphy, MPT
Monthly Contributing Writer

Even for those who try to keep it simple, the holiday season leads us to do a number of excessive things. Whether it's over-shopping, over-eating, or over-decorating, we often compromise our bodies (and budgets!) in search of the perfect celebration. One the seasonal culprits we tend to overlook is gift-wrapping. Done in moderation, wrapping doesn't have to be huge chore. But tackling the entire stack at once can leave you with a literal headache from muscle tension in your neck, shoulders & back.
So, how can you escape Santa's workshop painfree? Here are a few easy tips:
1) Wrap as you go - don't save everything for Christmas Eve (or any other "11th hour"). Start shopping early and spread the work over several weeks.
2) Get off the floor - you're "only going to do a couple", but that's what you said a couple of hours ago. We know you. Take a break & set up some workspace. The floor isn't off limits, especially for items that are heavy to lift. Just mix it up - see #3
3) Divide & conquer-make wrapping stations. A high table or countertop allows for comfortable standing and space to roll. Get a bunch of boxes wrapped first and then sit down at a cleared table for embellishments. This allows you to mix standing and sitting. (Just make sure you mark the items in some way so you don't end up with a bunch of unidentifiable boxes!)
4) Bag it-awkwardly-shaped or weighted items are easily handled with cute bags and tissue paper. Look for holiday sales & stock up on various sizes at local craft stores.
5) Get the right tools - a heavy tape dispenser is harder to lose than a disposable roll - and can be used with once hand while the other is trying to keep wrap in position. Sharp, well-designed scissors are a must (if you are a lefty-get L handed version!). A number of specialty tape pop-ups & paper cutters exist for the elfen professional.
6) Pick a motif - limit the number of paper rolls you need to juggle by picking a theme for each person or family--wrap all of those gifts in the same design. You can stack well-matched sizes or related gift items together and then bundle them with ribbon and bows to save time with embellishing each individually.
7) So you've ignored all the above. You're on bedroom floor, the cat is tangled in ribbon, your neck feels like rock, and your shoulderblades won't stop tingling. You can't find the tape, keep kneeling on the scissors, and are concerned that your mom was right about your hips "staying like that" when you refused to sit properly (even worse, you might have a blood clot!) So now what?
a. Do Something Different! Change the task, change your approach. Lie on your stomach if you've been hunched for hours. Pinch your shoulderblades and hold. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and turn your head slowly from side to side. Walk away for a bit and come back to it later-but this time, when you return ... revisit tips # 1-6!

This series of columns are by Shannon Murphy, MPT, Owner/Director of BodySense PT. 9 Saint Paul St, 3rd Floor, Boonsboro, MD 21713. 301-432-8585 phone, 301-432-1987 fax,

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