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Now that the snow is obviously here, I want to make sure you protect yourselves from getting hurt.
A recent poll points to snow shoveling as the leading cause of back and neck pain during the winter months. “Chiropractors are finding that some patients experience back and neck pain as a result of improper snow shoveling technique,” said Dr. Dennis Mizel, President of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. “Improper technique can be anything from bending at the waist instead of the knees to throwing snow instead of pushing it. When you combine improper technique with the average weight of one shovelful of snow (five to seven pounds) it becomes even more evident that this is a serious problem for both adults and the children who help them.”
We find at The Spine and Health Center of Montvale that back problems always surface in patients during the winter, especially those who are not used to participating in challenging physical activity on a regular basis. Activities that require exertion that is more than someones normal daily routine like as winter sports or pushing stuck cars can cause back injuries. However, snow shoveling is the number one reason patients present with back pain in the winter.
Don’t let winter be a pain in the back – ‘Lift light, shovel right.’ Here are a few things to help prevent you from getting hurt:
1. Warm-up. Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. A good warm-up should include stretches for the back, shoulders, arms and legs. This will ensure that your body is ready for action.
2. Don’t let the snow pile up. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.
3. Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow won’t stick.
4. Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.
5. Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.
6. Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.