Dr. Tom Groover of Boulder’s distinguished Groover Chiropractic Clinic is hoping to save a few backs this snowy season! Winter weather has blasted into town already…so be warned! If your body isn’t in proper condition, the oh-so-required (and oh-so-not-popular) winter chore of shoveling driveways and sidewalks presents potential for spasms, strains, sprains and all kinds of other unsavory health problems, according to Dr. Groover. This seemingly harmless task can quickly turn into a prolonged nightmare of pain and discomfort; the bending and twisting that’s oft-seen when tossing a shovelful of heavy snow can aggravate lower back discs. Plus, the overall physical exertion required may result in painful holiday injuries if your body is not properly conditioned.
- Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
- Clear snow as soon as it stops falling. Freshly fallen snow is lighter.
- Take it slow! Pace yourself and take breaks. Keep a cell phone handy in case of emergency.
- Don’t pick up too much snow at once. Use a small shovel, or fill it only one-fourth to one-half if you use a large shovel. If necessary, just push the snow as you shovel. It’s easier on your back. Keep the load of snow as close to your body as possible.
- Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions, especially if you’re carrying a shovelful of heavy snow.
- Shoveling can stress “de-conditioned” muscles that rest in between shoulders, in your upper back, and in your lower back, buttocks and legs. Thus, it’s helpful to do some warm-up stretches before you grab that shovel.
- When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. DO NOT THROW IT. Walk it to the snow bank.
- Protect your back. Bend from the knees, not your back. Lift with your legs bent, stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Try not to twist. If you move the snow to one side, move your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.
- Again, bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
- Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
After any of these activities, if you’re sore, apply ice to the affected area for 20 minutes, and then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeating this icing routine a couple times a day over the next few days should resolve your pain from normal muscle strain.
If you continue to feel any stiffness, soreness or pain after following these tips, more likely than not, you have misaligned your spine, pelvis, shoulders, etc., and it’s time for you to visit a Boulder chiropractor to properly diagnose and treat your condition and get to the root of the cause. Dr. Groover offers free global screening consultations; for more information, please visit his Boulder chiropractic clinic online or give us a call at (303) 442-7772.
Photo Credit: By Anna Reg (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 at (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons