Avoid Back Pain With These Helpful Tips
Whitby and Brooklin got a nice taste of snow this week, and more is certainly on the way. Before heading out to clear off the driveway, here are some tips to minimize strain on your back and joints.
1. Don’t let the snow pile up
Consider that each shovel-full of snow can weigh 5-7 pounds. If we let the snow pile up, we can be lifting hundreds of pounds of snow over the course of one bout of shovelling. Moving small amounts of snow more frequently is much less fatiguing for our back and muscles.
2. Choose the right shovel
A sturdy metal shovel might be good at moving snow, but it is heavy and cumbersome. Try a lightweight plastic pusher-type shovel that will easily move manageable amounts of snow.
3. Don’t throw, push
Pushing the snow to the edges of the driveway is far less tiring than throwing it across the yard. By pushing the show instead of throwing it we can avoid unnecessary bending, lifting, and twisting.
4. Neutral spine
Stand up nice and tall, and with your hands feel the curve of your low back. You should notice that it curves inward toward your belly button. This is the ‘neutral’ position for your back, and the position that we want to maintain while performing any lifting activity. Don’t let your low back bend or twist while shovelling. Instead, hinge from your hips and knees.
Shovelling can be a serious workout. Before you get started take a few minutes to get your muscles warmed up. A short walk for 5-10 minutes, or a couple of climbs up and down the stairs will help get you get ready to begin working. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for the weather. Layer up with comfortable winter clothing and cover exposed patches of skin.
6. Take breaks
Snow shovelling is hard work. If you begin to feel tired take a break. Don’t sacrifice proper form, or push yourself through discomfort just to get the job done, this will increase your risk of injury.
If you experience back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shovelling, see a chiropractor or health professional. If you experience chest pain that is severe, see your medical doctor immediately.
Dr. Brennan Dynes BA, DC