Aches and pains during seasonal shopping

Complaints of sore feet, achy backs, and tight neck and shoulders are common during this busy shopping season. This article will discuss how to avoid these aches and pains.

Sore Feet

There is a lot of walking, hustling, and standing in long lines during the shopping season. Foot pain can be the result of pressure on the bunions or the irritation of the plantar fascia (bottom arch of the foot).

Symptoms of bunions include:

  • Change in the bony structure of the 1st (big) toe in the shape of a bump
  • Pain with tight footwear
  • Pain and numbness at the bump
  • Pain with walking and standing for long periods of time

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Pain at the bottom of the foot at the arch or heel
  • Tightness in the calf and Achilles’ tendon
  • Pain in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time
  • Pain and sharpness at the bottom of the foot with walking

Achy Back

Driving for long periods of time, circling parking lots looking for a spot, walking in and out of stores, and carrying heavy bags and parcels, all contribute to achy and sore backs during the holiday season.


Symptoms include:

  • Tired and achy upper, middle, and lower back
  • Muscles feeling tired
  • Burning sensation in the low back and buttock region
  • Twisted or bent over posture
  • Sharp pain with lifting and bending movements
  • Sharp pain in the back when driving over potholes

Tight neck and shoulders

Repetitive neck movements when driving, walking while wearing a heavy coat, lifting and carrying heavy bags, and carrying a heavy purse or backpack, all contribute to neck and shoulder pain.

Symptoms include:

  • Pressure and tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles
  • Slouched posture
  • Pain making quick neck movements
  • Numbness and tingling down the arms
  • Headaches

Keeping muscles and joints healthy during the busy shopping season:

Before treatment and rehabilitation can begin, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough health history and physical examination to identify your symptoms and make a diagnosis. Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries of the spine, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves.  A correct diagnosis is important to rule out more serious conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Tips to consider during your shopping trip:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Also, stretch the feet by rocking back and forth on the toes and heels, shifting your weight from side to side, and standing with one foot in front of the other, instead of side-by-side.
  • If you are standing on a hard surface, try to keep the feet in constant movement by stepping or marching in one place.
  • Adjust your vehicle seating to ensure that your back, hips, and thighs are fully supported.
  • Use a portable lumbar support for your car seat if you require extra back support. Otherwise, try using a rolled-up towel or T-shirt placed at the low back for extra support.
  • Break up long distance driving trips with frequent breaks to stretch your spine, arms, and legs.
  • Avoid driving over potholes and unpaved roads. The extra bumps on the road can cause your body to jerk, which stresses the joints of the spine.
  • Stretch your spine, arms, and legs before lifting heavy packages out of the car.
  • Dress in layers. It may be cold outdoors, but it is often quite warm inside the malls. Bring a light jacket and dress in layers so that you will be able to stay comfortable during your shopping trip, and avoid the weight of a heavy coat on your neck and shoulders.
  • Wear a light purse or backpack to avoid added stress on your neck and shoulders.
  • Carry bags evenly with both hands to avoid imbalances in your posture.
  • Take advantage of the seating sections and chairs throughout the mall to sit and stretch.

Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for spine, muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at

Stop the Pain … Before the Pain Stops You!