In Bend, Oregon, the winter season means snow — sometimes a lot of it — and outdoor chores like shoveling walkways and driveways. Each year like clockwork, the first snowfall brings in new clients with familiar complaints of back and core pain from shoveling. However, many of these cold-weather injuries can be prevented through proper techniques and regular chiropractic care for the fluffy, white stuff to come.
Proper Snow Shoveling Techniques
Strains, sprains and spasms from shoveling snow are so common that the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has issued best practices for snow removal. While they offer general tips on shoveling snow, we are giving you an in-depth look at proper techniques to avoid back pain.
1. Lift with Your Knees, Not Your Back
The biggest culprit of back pain is improper shoveling technique. Rather than bending at your waist and lifting with your back, make it a point to maintain the natural curve of your spine, bend your knees and lift the load with your arms.
Additionally, don’t twist and turn to throw your snow. Instead, take a few steps toward your pile to dump heavy loads.
2. Bundle Up
Even stepping out into the cold temperatures can awaken old injuries and cause stiffness. Wear plenty of warm clothes to keep your joints and muscles loose during the process. Invest in a sturdy pair of non-slip boots to avoid falls on the ice and make moving around on the snow easier.
3. Warm Up Before Starting
You probably haven’t used the necessary muscles all year, so you should prepare them for the work to be done with jumping jacks, light stretches and a few lunges.
4. Use the Proper Equipment
Gone are the times of old-school shovels with wooden handles and no “give.” New models are ergonomically designed with lightweight plastic and will slightly curve to hold heavy loads, making the job easier on your back.
5. Plan Ahead
Keep an eye on the forecast to stay abreast of coming snowfall. You want to have ample time to clear the driveway – accounting for breaks between each section of snow. Quick movements and a rushed job will sooner result in a sprain or strain than slow, purposeful actions.
If at any time you feel chest pain or shortness of breath, stop shoveling right away. You may need medical attention.
Chiropractic Care For Snow Shoveling Injuries
Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself sore for days after shoveling. Don’t just let the pain resolve on its own, or you’ll find yourself worsening the underlying issue on each snow day to follow.
It’s possible that you have popped a bone or disc out of alignment and need professional help to restore balance. Not only can chiropractic adjustments realign your spine, but they may also soothe irritation and inflammation along the spinal track. Additionally, massage can relax areas of spasm and loosen muscles and joints to allow you to move freely while shoveling.
If you feel off after clearing the driveway, be sure to set an appointment with us at Total Body Chiropractic and Massage immediately. We would be happy to give you demonstrations of proper snow shoveling technique and stretches to make chores a breeze this year.