Shopping season has officially begun. During this hectic and stressful time, consumers should know what they can do to prevent injuries to their bodies such as back, shoulder and neck pains, muscle strains, joint injuries and even more serious occurrences like falls and slips.

Dr. Sheeraz A. Qureshi, an assistant professor of spinal surgery at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, understands the medical repercussions associated with carrying heavy bags and managing stress while shopping this holiday season. Dr. Qureshi is familiar with shoulder, back and neck strain and injuries that can occur due to carrying around parcels while you shop and can provide expert advice on how to prevent such injury.

In order to have a happy and healthy holiday season, here is some useful advice from Dr. Qureshi about how to avoid injury while searching for that perfect gift:

Ÿ Always use a shopping cart if and when they are available

Ÿ Put shopping bags in the car before continuing on to additional stores

Ÿ Carry a small purse or avoid bringing your briefcase so you do not have extra weight to carry

Ÿ Ask the sales associate to hold items up front to free up your hands as you continue browsing

Ÿ Do not talk on your cell phone while carrying heavy bags, as it can cause additional strain on your neck

Ÿ Transfer the bags from one arm to the other in order to keep the weight evenly distributed

Ÿ When walking outside, hold bags in your dominant hand, so if you fall on the ice or a slippery sidewalk, you will only hurt your non-dominant hand

Ÿ See if the store offers delivery, so you can leave the heavy purchases behind

Ÿ Have the sales associate carry bulkier items to your car

Ÿ Shop alongside friends or family members that may be able to assist with the burden

Ÿ Take breaks periodically throughout your shopping day so you can relieve your arms of the weight

Ÿ Drink lots of fluids throughout the day in order to stay hydrated

Ÿ After a particularly long shopping day take Ibuprofen in order to help reduce the onset of sore muscles and pain

Ÿ Shop online whenever possible!

Dr. Sheeraz A. Qureshi has appeared on national and local TV and radio, as well as in many print outlets as a resource on orthopaedic care and injuries.