Winter has finally graced us with her presence! As we get ourselves active and prepared to tackle shovelling that first snowfall, it is important to think about using safe techniques to prevent hurting ourselves. It is common for us to see as chiropractors or massage therapists, patients coming to ourLive Well Centre with new or re-aggravated back injuries. This can include pulled and spastic muscles, lumbar spine strains and sprains, or sacro-iliac joint (pelvis) injuries. Unfortunately, it also can mean a serious heart strain, creating a few emergency trips at this time of year.
Consider that a shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds, and you have to lift that to clear your driveway or sidewalk, it can easily add up to lifting several hundred pounds! That is a serious workout! These tips will help keep your back in shape as you attack that snow:
Don’t let the snow pile up: If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shovelling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow at once. It’s far less strenuous in the long run.
Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel. If your are using a metal shovel, you can spray it first with Teflon, so snow won’t stick to it.
Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.
Bend your knees: As with any heavy object, you need to use your knees, and leg and arm muscles to do the lifting and pushing, while keeping your back straight.
Take a break: If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest or back pain. A nice tip is to try not to leave the shovelling to the last minute on a busy morning, so that you feel rushed and push yourself to fast to get to work on time.
If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shovelling, see your chiropractor. You may need an adjustment or massage to restore the injured area. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a doctor immediately.
Not a lot of people enjoy shovelling, but if you look at it as a way to get yourself outside as you accomplish your exercise for the day, breathing fresh air and working your body in a positive way, I promise you will feel better after then you did before the chore!