Shoveling and Preventing Pain

During the winter, many people visit their doctors complaining of back pain. Often, they blame the last snowfall. After shoveling the driveway, their backs feel stiff and achy. Others have sudden pain the moment they pick up a shovel. Shoveling snow can cause anything from muscle strain to slipped disks and even serious bone fractures. But if you follow a few simple tips, you can help prevent low back pain related to snow shoveling.

  • Choose a proper shovel. Consider two types of snow shovels. One lifts loads of snow. The other – with a wide, curved blade – is used as a “plow.” Make sure both types of shovels have curved handles with plastic, lightweight blades. The curved handle helps you keep your back straight when lifting the snow-filled blade off the ground – or when you push snow aside with the plowing shovel. Make sure the handle of your snow shovel reaches your chest.
  • Warm up first. Shoveling is a combination of weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise. Like any other exercise, warm up first to avoid injury. Warm up your muscles by taking a walk. You can also march or jog in place.
  • Technique
    • Space your hands apart for leverage. This makes it easier to lift a blade filled with snow.
    • Space your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Bend at the knees – not the waist. If you do bend at the waist, bring your hands closer to the end of the shovel or get a shovel with a longer handle.
    • Tighten your abdominal muscles every time you lift a load of snow.
    • Keep your head down and in line with a straight back.
    • Keep each shovelful close to the body. Avoid extending your arms.
    • Minimize the distance you carry the snow. Walk each shovelful just a few feet, as close to the ground as you can, then dump it by flipping the handle with your wrists. Avoid throwing loads of snow over your shoulder.
    • Clear deep snow layer by layer. Pace yourself, and stay hydrated.
  • Know your limits. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If the snow is deep or heavy, ask a family member, friend or neighborhood teenager to help.
  • Caution Talk to your doctor before you shovel any snow. Your heart and back work very hard when you shovel. If you have heart trouble, or have risk factors for heart disease, shoveling can lead to a heart attack. If you feel chest pain or become short of breath while shoveling, stop at once. Call 9-1-1 if you have any chest pain or any other symptoms of a heart attack.

Reference:
Article from www.Myoptimumhealth.com

By Dana Clark