Now is the time. The weather has gone from warm to crisp to cold. Snow 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.
The brain is constantly changing through a process called neuroplasticity. When you have an injury it sends signals of pain to the brain. Because of injury or pain you change the way you move. This can cause changes in the sensorimotor portions of the brain. These changes can persist beyond the initial injury repair and can disrupt sensorimotor re-integration (the healing process of the nerve patterns). This may explain why you may limp even after a leg injury has healed or why you have chronic pain from an old injury that healed years ago. Because of this process joint dysfunction/subluxations can contribute to the chronicity of injuries.
Medically these conditions are called allodynia or hyperalgesia. These are when the brain is reporting the wrong feedback to the body (pain with light touch, or tingling sensation when nothing is really going on). You see your brain has a sense that you may not be aware of. Beyond your touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight you have a sense is called proprioception. It’s the ability of your body to sense where any part of it is in space even without the other senses. This sense comes from all the afferent signals that your muscle spindle fibers, Golgi tendon organs, etc… send to the brain. Vertebral subluxation is a state of altered afferent input which can lead to maladaptive central plastic changes that over time can lead to further dysfunction. In other words interference in the path of communication is like playing that game telephone, and the signal that the body sends is not what the brain gets or visa versa. This interference does affect all communication that comes through the area. So, if you have a bad knee and a bad back the brain may not know how the knee is doing even after it has healed because the back problem interfered. Because these subluxations can contribute to these conditions fixing subluxations can also contribute to resolving them.
Chiropractic care improves the health and function of the spine, so that it can accurately perceive what is going on and respond appropriately which in turn helps clear up the communication between your brain, the body and the environment. When the communication lines are open for a long enough period of time then the chronic pain patterns have a chance to resolve.
Additional Research on the topic:
Is neuroplasticity in the central nervous system the missing link to our understanding of chronic musculoskeletal disorders?
Cervical spine manipulation alters sensorimotor integration
The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control.
In our society today it is difficult to get away from computers. You are reading this post on one right now, just as I sat at mine to type it. Well I’m on here to tell you to get up stand up and do some jumping jacks. Lie down on the floor and do some push-ups. Finish those push-ups in yoga’s cobra posture.
Why? Because our body is designed to move. When we stop moving our body stops feeding our muscles bones and joints. You only get nutrients where you need them. Think of breaking a bone. When you put your arm in a cast it doesn’t come out happy and able to move just like it was before. It hasn’t been used in weeks and so it is prone to injury and the muscle has atrophied. Sometimes you even have to go through long term rehab to get your body back to the way it was before you stopped using it. That isn’t because of the broken bone. It’s because of a lack of use.
Computers have made things easy for us. The vast majority of jobs now require people to sit at their desk for many hours a day, and we check our Facebook account on our phone waiting in line or sometimes while driving. When we get home we relax by watching TV, or playing on the computer we carry our ipad to bed and finish just one more thing while going to sleep. There is nothing wrong with the computers they are just a tool. We are however neglecting the tool that these computers replaced, our bodies. If we want to be able to function well and without pain then it is important to keep the tool that is our body well tuned up.
Now you don’t need another blog to tell you this. Most people already know what they should be doing, such as eating right and exercising. We can all use reminders though, so here are just a few links to scary news articles all about reasons to get yourself moving.
Children growing weaker as computers replace outdoor activity
‘iPosture’ blamed for surging back pain among young adults
Why Sitting at the Computer Gives You a Bad Back