Holiday Gift Wrapping and Your Back

Proper gift wrapping techniques to minimize back pain.

Potential Problems for Your Back

The main thing you want to avoid is wrapping a present while sitting on the floor.   Wrapping presents requires a good deal of space and the floor is usually one of the first things to avoid.  Avoid it at all costs!

Kneeling or sitting on the same plane the wrapping is taking place on causes you to bend a lot.   And you typically have to stretch and hold the bent position for extended periods of time. This puts a great deal of stress on the neck and low back.

Bending forward with your legs stretched out in front of you or crossed restricts blood flow.  Sitting on the hard surface of a floor also reduces blood flow through your posterior.

Best Possible Options

Option 1

A table is always a good solution for wrapping presents.  Whether it is a desk, kitchen or dining room table or folding card table, having a work surface at a height you can comfortably sit at is a big plus.  However cutting the full length of most gift wrap still requires stretching and bending, and in some cases standing and bending, to accomplish.

What You Need

A work surface and chair setup that will allow you to maintain a good seated posture.

A work surface that is large enough to unroll your paper and support your packages.  Most paper comes in rolls three or four feet long.  A three/four by six feet long table should suffice.

A space to hold your scissors, tape, ribbons, etc., at arms reach.  A side table or extra chair works well. You should not have to bend or stretch to reach them.  Your tool locations should not interfere with the paper either.

A counter top is a good place to start. For most of us that will mean the kitchen.

Some good, supportive shoes are next if you will be standing for long periods.  Do not do this barefoot or in slippers.

An anti-fatigue mat or soft rug to stand on will help as well. Place it directly in front of your work surface.

A good chair helps.  You can often use the chair that comes with the table.  A dining, kitchen or office chair will work.  Avoid folding or un-padded chairs if possible. Remember, you will probably be wrapping for several minutes.  Get comfortable.

Option 2

Wrapping at counter top height while standing is also an excellent option.  Wrapping at a counter while standing will give you all the access you need without over stressing your body.

Applying ribbon and other ornamentation can then be comfortably done at a table while sitting since an awkward reach is not typically needed for that task.

What You Need

A work surface height that will allow you to maintain a good standing posture.

Clear off a three to five feet wide space all the way to the back splash.

Place the roll of paper at the back so that you can pull it and unroll it towards you.  This way you can pull out as much paper as you need to wrap around the package and let it hang down so it does not obscure your work surface.

A space to hold your tools at arms reach.  Some extra counter space will work.  Or you could pull out a drawer to the side of your work surface.  A chopping board or cookie sheet across the opened drawer will keep your tools and the drawer contents separated.

Happy Holidays and Gift Wrapping