Knoxville (WVLT) -- The National Retail Federation reports the number of Black Friday weekend shoppers increased 4.8 percent this year over last.
But lugging heavy shopping bags around the mall and in the parking lot can take its toll on your body, as well as your wallet.
Here are some tips on how to avoid foot, neck and back pain while searching for the perfect gift.
Black Friday has become the milestone shopping day that retailers use as an indicator of the health of the holiday shopping season.
Shirley Humphrey said she was one of the millions of shoppers who hit the stores early.
"From about 4:30 AM until about 11:00 AM, we were out," she said, paying for it later. “My feet first started hurting and then my back."
Graeme Keys, the Director of Physical Therapy at Spine Knoxville says Shirley’s pain is the result of making some of the most common shopping mistakes.
"We're going to see a lot of back problems and maybe even some feet problems, because a lot of us are out shopping in the wrong shoes,” said Keys. “We're wearing high-heeled boots and high-heeled shoes and that creates a problem after being on your feet for several hours."
Ankle and foot injuries often occur from carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces, like those in shopping malls.
You should always wear comfortable shoes with plenty of support while you're shopping, such as walking or running shoes.
Also remember to maintain your balance by distributing the weight of your shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
“Try to prevent it by actually evening yourself up, even those bags and take them back to the car a bit more frequently," Keys said.
Basically, don't lug heavy shopping bags all over the mall.
By making repeated trips to your car to unload, you can get some exercise and relieve stress on your back muscles.
"If I was walking, I wasn't hurting,” said Humphrey, “but as I stood still, that's when I started hurting mostly."
There's a right way and wrong way to drop after you shop.
"The best thing to do when you go home is to actually lie on your stomach for a few minutes and then work up onto your elbows as if you're reading a magazine in front of you,” Keys said. “That begins to alleviate some of that soreness and ache."
Lying on the couch with your feet propped up can cause additional muscle stiffness, leaving you down for the count, with less than 26 shopping days left.
Another thing to consider, besides heavy shopping bags, is your purse.
Either empty it or consider a small backpack.
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