Parading Pain and How to Avoid It

Everywhere else it’s just Tuesday.

That not only applies to Fat Tuesday, but every other day of Carnival. New Orleans is bathed for two weeks and more in purple, red, green and gold; families create last memories of kids, parades and reunions; food—fried chicken, King cake, gumbo and much more—is plentiful; and nearly everyday we stake our ground to hear the bands, catch the throws and view the greatest show on earth!

It’s life lived at it’s fullest and it’s incomparable to any other mass celebration, but you can overdo it. MPT Therapist Ryan Marek (DPT) says to remember to take it easy, keep yourself stretched and limber and don’t try to put your mother-in-law on your shoulders!

“During parade season, you’re going to be lifting your arms over your head a lot and that puts a strain on your neck and shoulders,” says Marek. “Parents and grandparents are hoisting kids on the shoulders and necks every time a float passes by. Plus, all the standing around can take its toll on your back.”

Marek says it’s important to take breaks during the parades, bring a chair to rest in, drink plenty of water, put the beads in a bag and not piled on your neck, and stretch before and after.

Here are a few simple stretches that you can use to keep the good times rolling and your neck, back and shoulders pain free.

Upper Trapezoid Stretch

Slowly and gently pull your head to your shoulder and place your opposite arm behind your back to drop the opposite shoulder. Three times each side and hold each rep for 20 seconds.

Levator Scapula Stretch

Slowly and gently sidebend and rotate your head in the same direction toward your left hip, using your left hand to gently assist the head movement. Drop the opposite shoulder by placing your hand behind your back. Hold for 20 seconds. Three times each side.

 Scapular Retraction

From a normal position (sitting or standing) bring your shoulder blades together and slightly down. Be careful not to shrug your shoulders upward and engage your abdominal muscles so that you’re not arching your lower back. Hold and return to starting position and repeat 10 times.

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