SNOW SHOVELING DO’S AND DON’TS

Tis the season! The weather gets colder and the snow arrives looking beautiful. But it’s the removal of that snow that can become a major problem for many people. Snow shoveling is a seasonal torturous occurrence causing a variety of back injuries and pain every winter. Snow implies cold weather. Cold muscles are more easily injured, since they are taut and tight making them far more prone to cramping or spasms. This leads to musculoskeletal misalignments and distortions. But have no fear!! There are many things one can do to prevent back pain and back-related injuries. 

Before even taking a step outside, take a few minutes and do some stretching and calisthenics. Be sure to include your back, shoulders, arms, and legs. Dress warm and wear layered clothing. It’ll help keep your muscles warm and cushion your landing in case of an unexpected fall. Also wear boots or shoes with excellent traction to prevent falling on the icy surfaces under the snow. Now you’re ready to shovel!

Pick the right shovel for you. It is best to use a shovel that is best suited to your height and weight. A smaller blade and a proper length will put less stress and strain on your spine and body. Choose a shovel that is ergonomically correct - one that has a curved handle. This will minimize the need to bend and reach. Also consider using a shovel with a plastic blade, which is lighter as opposed to a heavier, metal blade.

If it’s possible push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw the snow, avoid twisting and turning – instead, position yourself to throw straight ahead at the snow pile. Remember to stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, the shovel close to your body, and bend at the knees. Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow and be sure to deposit it close to where you are shoveling. Don’t shovel quickly, instead work at a comfortable pace befitting your age and strength. Shovel light to moderate amounts of snow per shovel load instead of one large scoop of snow to further avoid sprains and strains. Do not overexert yourself. And if you get tired, rest until you feel ready to begin again. If experience any pain, stop immediately.

Snow shoveling is a strenuous exercise. So take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.  And when you have had more than your “share of fun,” remember it’s also okay to pay the neighborhood kids to finish that driveway or sidewalk. Happy and safe shoveling!

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About the author:
DR. STEVEN RIESS has dedicated a career in providing natural pain relief treatments and education about how to stay out of pain.  His practice is located in Plainview, NY where he provides a full array of services to help you achieve optimal health.  For more information or to get acquainted with Dr. Riess, visit: www.drstevenriess.com

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