Snow is a Pain in the Neck (Back)

Now is the time.  The weather has gone from warm to crisp to cold.  snow-shovelingSnow is covering your driveway and sidewalks.  If your body is not in condition, snow shoveling can lead to injury.

Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate lower back problems.  In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, often results in painful injuries.  And lets be honest who does conditioning for snow shoveling.  We don’t practice it until the snow falls.

Here are some tips that you should follow in order to stay injury free this shoveling season:

  • Exercise all year round.  You may not be ready for shoveling exactly, but a well conditioned body responds better to any stress it faces.
  • Plan extra time to get anywhere, whether it be work or shopping or anything else count on some shoveling/scraping time.  If you don’t need it then you’ll be a little early, and that never hurts, but rushing the job can hurt or lead to injury.
  • Don’t shovel in your Pajamas (or shorts), wear appropriate clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.  Working in the cold can increase the risk of sprains or strains.
  • Stretch out. Shoveling is exercise to.  A good warm up before hand may be the difference between some sore muscles or a trip to the doctor.
  • Use a lightweight, ergonomically designed shovel to reduce back strain.  You’ll still get it done with a smaller shovel and with a lighter load each time you reduce the risk of injury.
  • Push the snow don’t throw it; walk it to the snow bank.  Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions, especially while lifting a load so far from your center.
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling.  Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent breaks.  A fatigued body is asking for an injury.
  • Feeling sore after shoveling is normal.  I know you’ve been in the snow all morning, but try putting an icepack on the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours.
  • If you do injure yourself or your soreness persists, it may be time to visit a chiropractor.  Find a local one.  If you’re in Sandy, UT or anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley come see me.  We’ll get you back to enjoying your days as quickly as possible.
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