It’s that time of year again. Our phones are ringing more frequently with patients needing treatment for snow shoveling related injuries, one of the hazards of the season and the state in which we live. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to help you navigate the magical white stuff without hurting yourself.
Back Pain from Shoveling Snow
Understandably, armchair athletes and weekend warriors can cause serious damage to their bodies while shoveling snow, unaccustomed as they are to the exertion, twisting, and lifting. But even the most fit athletes can suffer injuries due to the specialized movements required in shoveling snow. The clearing of just one driveway can involve the lifting and tossing of several hundred pounds of snow.
Bending and twisting while carrying mounds of wet, heavy snow on the end of your shovel can easily cause lumber disc herniation; injuries to the soft cushioning between the vertebrae and nerves in your lower back. Muscle strains and sprains in the back, neck, shoulders, and legs are all quite common.
Here are some of our favorite tips to encourage safer shoveling:
- Wise Up – If possible, start shoveling after the first couple of inches fall. Snow is lighter when fresh, and if you can keep on top of it before too much accumulates, you won’t have a heavy mound of packed ice to deal with later.
- Warm up – Perform a few stretches in the house. Warm and loosen those muscles!
- Straighten Up – Focus on keeping your back straight, use your legs to help lift the shovel, and push the snow instead of lifting whenever possible. Don’t twist your body and don’t toss snow over your shoulders.
- Lighten Up – Work at a moderate pace that is comfortable for you. Do not try to lift too much snow at one time.
- Rest Up, Drink Up, and Layer Up –Take frequent breaks, drink water to stay well-hydrated, and dress in layers so that you can subtract and add clothing as you heat up and cool down again.
- Sun Up – If the sun is out, do not be too worried about thoroughness. Even on a very cold day, the strong rays will speed the snow’s thaw and melt any remaining patches you leave behind.
- Wind Down – Do some gentle stretches when you are finished, drink more water, and if muscles are sore, enjoy a hot salt bath!
Be Shovel Ready – Tips for Choosing an Ergonomic Snow Shovel
An ergonomically correct shovel will have a curved handle to encourage you to stand upright with your back straight, reducing stress on your spine. An oversized, ridged grip handle will give you a more comfortable and secure hold and accommodate a large glove. Shovels made specifically for pushing snow can be great if you’re dealing with very wet and heavy dumps.
Don’t Walk on Thin Ice – Tips for Preventing Winter Slips and Falls
Injuries from slipping and falling on icy surfaces this time of year can range from wounded pride to bone-crunching breaks. Chiropractors see a multitude of injuries: vertebral misalignment, back and neck pain, musculoskeletal injuries, pinched nerves, and spinal cord injuries. Fortunately, non-invasive and drug-free treatment methods like massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments allow the body’s nervous and muscular systems to regain health and balance. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay vertical and injury-free:
- Walk slowly and shuffle with your feet close to the ground, arms extended to your sides if you need extra balance.
- Wear insulated, anti-slip footwear with rubber tread.
- Stick to well-lighted, well-maintained pathways and if you must walk in the street, be sure you are visible to cars.
- Always be able to see where you are walking. If you are carrying packages, you might miss a slippery patch of ice if you can’t see directly in front of you.
- If you do take a spill, try to relax and fall on your side.
Accident and Injury Chiropractic Care in Troy, Michigan
If you are still sore a day after you’ve been shoveling, contact Advanced Health Chiropractic. The preventive and therapeutic benefits of chiropractic adjustments, paired with a massage, will leave your spine, muscles, and tissues flexible and supple enough to take on the next big snow storm of the season!