Proper Snow Shovelling is Crucial to Prevent Back Pain

 As the winter months begin so does the increase in back and muscle pain often due to improper shovelling techniques.  Ontario’s chiropractors report that snow-shovelling injuries are the leading cause of back and neck pain during the winter months, which is often the result of poor shovelling techniques. Chiropractors are experts in the area of back, muscle and joint pain and disorders. As education and preparedness are the keys to correcting and avoiding many health problems, below are some preventative tips.

How to Lift Light, and Shovel Right:

Warm-up.  Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation.  To do this, march on the spot, climb the stairs, or go for a quick walk around the block.  Follow this with some gentle stretches for the back (knee to chest), arms and shoulders (body hug), and legs (forward bends from seated position).  This will ensure that your body is ready for action.

Don’t let the snow pile up.  Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.

Pick the right shovel.  Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel.

Push, don’t throw.  Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it.  If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

Bend your knees.  Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

Watch the ice.  Coarse sand, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help give sidewalks and driveways more traction,  reducing the chance of a slip or fall.

Wear proper footwear.  Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.

Take a break.  If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest.  Make it a habit to rest for a moment or two for every 10 or 15 minutes of shovelling.  This is especially  important if the snow is wet and heavy.  Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.  Seek medical advice or see a chiropractor if you experience back pain.

Staying warm. Layered clothing works better to keep your muscles warm and your skin dry so you don’t get chilled. You may want to invest in clothing designed specifically for winter outdoor activity or layer garments made of natural fibres.

Stay Hydrated. Don’t be fooled by the temperature! Your active body needs plenty of fluids even though it’s cold outside. Be sure to drink lots of water or juice before,      during and after winter sports.

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