Don’t Let The Light Fluffy Snow Fool You While Shoveling! Tips To Not Injure Your Back:

Shoveling Snow, low back pain, injury, herniated disc, sprain, strain

   Even know the snow looks light and fluffy out there, don’t let that fool you when shoveling.  Sometimes it is not the weight of the snow so much as the repetitive movements of shoveling.  This light, fluffy snow is better than the heavy, wet snow, but it can still cause injury.  Here are a few tips to help prevent an injury:

1.  Take your time – if you are anything like me you want to complete the job ask quickly as possible.  However, in the case of shoveling snow, this is a recipe for disaster.  The key is to take your time, slow and steady wins the race (winning is not injuring your back).

2. Take breaks frequently – most people don’t realize how much energy they are expending when they are shoveling.  When you do take that break, you are usually very fatigued.  The key here is to take breaks every certain amount of minutes, for example every 5 minutes.  Set a timer on your watch or phone.  This is will allow your body to recover before you continue again.

3. Bend at the knees and hips – and lift the weight with your legs as you all know you should.  Do not use your back to lift because that is the easiest way to “blow out your back”.  The small muscles of your back were never designed for lifting and carrying, it is actually the large muscles of your hips and legs that were designed to do the heavy lifting.

4. Maintain a neutral spine – what does that mean?  Most people when they lift and carry flex their spine (rounding of the back).  This puts tremendous pressure on the spine and discs which are the cushions in between the bones of your spine.  It is the easiest way to injure your back because you are applying abnormal stress to parts of the spine which can’t handle that type of stress.  To stay in a neutral spine, you want to flatten your back or even put it in a very slight arch.  This will put the weight on the correct part of your spine and minimize your potential for injury.

5. Do not reach – the last thing you should do is try to over reach to get to an area.  This creates a “long lever” which can be harmful.  When reaching you put excess pressure with less support which can lead to injury.

6. Do not hold you breath – When you hold your breath while exerting you increase the pressure in your body, and everyone knows that we don’t work well under pressure!!!  Breathing is key for so many reasons.  It helps bring oxygen to your muscles to supply them with the energy they need to perform the tasks you are asking them to accomplish.  It also prevents from over-exertion injuries which can prevent things like light-headedness and headaches.

The most common injuries are sprains and strains of the low back, herniated discs and pinched nerves.  You can prevent these injuries by following these tips.  The cold is another reason why so many people hurt themselves while shoveling.  When your body is cold, the muscles are tight and less elastic and less flexible.  When you put stress on a cold, tight muscle it is much easier to injure.  Another way to prevent injury while shoveling is by warming up and more importantly staying warm.  Drinks lots of water to keep your body hydrated as well.  Please use these tips wen getting out there to shovel.  If you have any questions you can always contact us at the office and we can provide you with even more information to help you with an injury free winter!

THE FIRST SNOW IS UPON US, SO HERE ARE A FEW TIPS:

 

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.