Not only Santa carries a heavy sack at Christmas

The traditional weekly shop could be contributing to Britain's back pain epidemic, with shoppers lugging a whopping 87 tonnes of groceries in their lifetime, new research from online supermarket Ocado reveals.

The average weekly food shop of three bags, each weighing 12.7 kilos (1.9 stone), adds up to the staggering life time total.

And during the full festive swing of Christmas week, supermarket shoppers will see their food baskets ballooning to an arm-stretching 60 kg (9.4 stone) five times heavier than the normal weekly load.

Part of the problem is that Brits think they are stronger than they are, especially during the festive season when stress levels run high, adrenaline kicks in and ‘super shoppers’ flood the shops, determined not to leave without all the Christmas trimmings.

Ocado, taking the strain and delivering items onto the kitchen table via specially trained drivers in convenient hourly slots, weighed our big Christmas essentials including turkeys, in at around 7kg, and potatoes, at a bag breaking 2.5 kg; even sides of sprouts total 1kg, making families’ festive dinners heavy in more ways than one.

But it is not just the Christmas items that are supermarket heavyweights - everyday items such as dry dog food come in at around 15kg, a box of washing powder averages 2kg and milk lugs in at 3.42 litres.

Today’s weekly grocery basket is a heavy load to manage home, and with Brits walking an average 6.2 miles on each round-trip to their local supermarket, or simply re-lifting groceries in and out of car boots, onto checkout conveyors, out of trolleys and through the front door there is even more cause for aches and pains.

Paula Coates, spinal specialist physiotherapist on BBC's City Hospital comments: “85 per cent of Brits do or will suffer from a form of back, neck or shoulder problems in their lifetime, with heavy loads like food shopping being one of the cumulative causes of back pain.”

Dr Tim Hutchful, of the British Chiropractic Association, who has practised for 18 years, adds: "Though we don’t consider shopping to be a strenuous activity, you would consider lugging around heavy loads to be exhausting.

“Repeatedly subjecting your body to carrying heavy shopping can cause problems like muscle sprains and ligament strains and longer lasting back, neck and shoulder problems.

“I actively tell my patients that, when shopping, they should always try and load their spines evenly."

Jon Rudoe, Head of Retail at Ocado, says: “Ocado offers hassle-free food delivery all year round but shopping bags do tend to bulge around now, as people get into planning mode for the perfect Christmas lunch.

“Ocado’s trained professionals will be right on hand to take the weight and seasonal stress off of customers’ shoulders by delivering bulky festive groceries straight to the kitchen table.

“Unfortunately, I can’t promise any chimney drops this Christmas; I think we’ll have to leave that to a certain other delivery expert!”

Tim has come up with a series of handy tips to try and avoid injury when carrying the weekly shop:

  • do not try to carry more that you can reasonably manage – multiple trips or home delivery might be better options
  • bend your knees when picking up or putting down bags
  • evenly load the weight in your bags
  • try to carry equal amounts of weight on each arm
  • take regular breaks if walking long distances; put the bags down and stretch a little before continuing.
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Not only Santa carries a heavy sack at Christmas
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