‘Tis the season…. for SNOW! It feels like the shoveling never ends, especially when you live in a city where winter can occasionally linger on until April. Ice Cube has some great songs but don’t follow his lyrics when you’re shoveling- if you put your back into it, you’re likely to end up with a sore back!
To help ease the pain of shoveling, I’m going to share my chiropractic association’s tips with you. Personally, I find that switching from right to left-side shoveling isn’t difficult (shoveling doesn’t require fine dexterity) and so this combined with using my legs always helps. I also do some wrist and shoulder circles to warm up before tackling the job. The snow is usually light enough if you try to do it regularly. But if it is heavy or wet (like one of the first snowfalls we had in Edmonton this year), try spraying your shovel first with any non-stick spray like WD-40 or Pam cooking spray. I’ve also read that someone used car wax on their shovel and that kept it non-stick for longer. I wish I had tried this tip but I’ll remember for next time! The snow was so heavy that one day that I had to kick it off my shovel each time. Ah, the joys of winter.
Here is the info from the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC) website:
by Tara Madden (click the link for more useful articles by the author)
Heavy snowfall and wintery conditions, you say? Bring it on! Alberta’s chiropractors have your back.
“Snow shoveling, slips and falls are still the top reasons for back and muscle pain in the winter,” says Dr. Clark Mills, local chiropractor and president of the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. “Every winter, Alberta chiropractors see an increase in back injuries due to improper lifting when shoveling snow.”
This isn’t surprising when you consider that one shovelful of snow weighs three to five kilograms. Combine that weight with improper shoveling technique and it’s a recipe for pain and injury.
Alberta’s chiropractors offer the following tips to help prevent back pain and injury this winter:
- Warm up. Before beginning any snow removal or strenuous winter activity, warm up for five to 10 minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation.
- 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, push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with a non-stick spray so snow slides of easily.
- Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw, 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. Course sand, ice salt, ice melt or even kitty litter can give your walk and driveway more traction, reducing the risk 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. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.
Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained spine care experts. If you experience back pain related to winter activities, consult your chiropractor. To find a chiropractor near you, visit albertachiro.com.”