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Simple Tips to Avoid Back Injuries While Shoveling

Dr. Bill Nolan from Cherry Street Chiropractic offers simple tips to avoid back injuries while show shoveling.

The National Weather Service predicts a historic Nor’easter to slam Boston today and tomorrow. Dr. Bill Nolan from Cherry Street Chiropractic offers simple tips to avoid back injuries while show shoveling. 

“Snow shoveling can be stressful. Bending forward, lifting, and twisting, combined with the exposure to the cold, can cause muscle spasms, strains or tears. Your spine is in the most vulnerable position when you flex forward and rotate. This is why simple movements such as raking, vacuuming, and shoveling cause a lot of injuries."

First, there is a right way and wrong way to shovel. Most people shovel the wrong way and put their spine at risk for injury. The most common method of shoveling is to load up the shovel, lift the load without using your legs, and heave the load over one of your shoulders. This method puts tremendous pressure on the lower back, increasing your risk of injury.

Dr. Bill suggests these tips when dealing with snow:

  • Warm-Up. Before you start any type of exercise you want to do a warm-up, shoveling is no different. A body that is stiff and tight is prime for an injury. A few minutes of walking, jumping jacks and stretching can do you a lot of good.
  • Stay warm. Once you start working outside you want to keep your muscles warm. The best way to do this is layer your clothing. If you get too hot you can always take a layer off. Your hands and feet are important areas to stay warm as well.
  • Proper shovel. The right shovel should be about chest high on you, this allows you to keep your back straight while shoveling. If you use a shovel that is too short you will be forced to lean forward more putting more stress on the lower back.
  • Proper posture. When you do shovel, use your legs and bend with your knees. Instead of throwing the snow use the shovel to push the snow straight ahead into the snow bank.
  • Take breaks. If you shovel for too long or too fast without taking a break your muscles are at higher risk for a strain. Think about lifting weights, you would never bench press for 30 minutes without a break. Use the same approach with shoveling. Take frequent breaks.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep your body hydrated while shoveling with plenty of water. Take the same approach to moving snow as you would with exercising at the gym.

Good luck with the snow! Stay safe and stay warm. If an injury does occur call Dr. Bill at Cherry Street Chiropractic.

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