Dr. Chad London DC, CCSP
As winter approaches and the snow starts falling, we have to be very conscious of our body mechanics when shoveling snow. This may take up more time during our busy weeks as we get deeper into the winter. Following a few important steps may help prevent injuries and keep you pain free during this cold and wet winter. Below are 5 tips to help you and your family!
1. Balanced body position: With shoveling snow we want to make sure that you have the correct body position. Having your feet spread wider than your shoulders, knees slightly bent gives you more of a steady balanced base and allows you to use more of your legs and hips while shoveling snow. This will take pressure off of your low back. Alternating between left and right side while shoveling will allow you to use different muscles. Looking up and forward decreases the rounding of your mid and upper back and straightening of your neck. This will decrease the tension in your neck and upper back. Performing shorter shoveling strokes and lifting less snow will decrease the load on your back and shoulders.
2. Shoveling Equipment: With any job you need the right equipment. Making sure you have a sturdy pair of boots with good grip will prevent slips and falls. Having a newer shovel blade with a sturdy handle will allow you to have smooth consistent strokes. Covering your head with a snow hat or beanie will keep your warm during your task.
3. Taking breaks: Shoveling snow can be very strenuous on your body. When our body fatigues and we are unable to maintain a strong balanced body position injury occurs and that is the correct time to take a break. Recommended breaks should be taken every 5 minutes. If that is not enough for you, i would suggest working on a shorter cycle of 1 minute of work with 30 seconds of rest.
4. Drinking plenty of fluids: While shoveling snow you are working hard. Your body temperature increases and you begin to sweat more. Making sure that you stay hydrated is important to regulate your body temperature. Also it’s a great way to make sure that you are taking regular breaks.
5. Warm up before shoveling snow: As with all activity it is very important that you stretch, warm up and activate your muscle before the activity. Performing a short warm up before shoveling snow gets your body ready but also activates the correct muscles so that they are used during the task. This will in turn take pressure and tension off your low back and prevent pain.
Low back and neck pain can be debilitating. If you currently suffer from neck or low back pain I recommend seeing a chiropractor to assess your pain and find the source of your pain. Call our office at 303-744-7100 to set up a appointment.
Stay safe this winter.