shovel-snowWe are in the midst of a snowstorm folks, and yes we have been spoiled for the past two winters. This may be the heaviest drop by mother nature in a while, so its important that we take a few seconds to realize that shoveling snow can be relentless and tough on the heart and lower back if we don’t practice good technique.

Here is what you need to do before heading out to clean up that driveway, or you’ll be visiting your chiropractor a lot more than you need. For those who live in condos, this is a good time to rub it in…

1)  Don’t be lazy and wait for the snowfall to finish:

If you let the snow pile up, there is more lifting to be done, so shovel frequently to move smaller amounts of snow at once.

 2)  Pick the right shovel:

There are a few choices in shovels, some even with ergonomic designs to attract but also pricey. Overall, a lightweight pusher-type of shovel is easier on the back, and minimizes heavier lifting.

 3)  Push, don’t lift the snow:

Pushing snow ahead of you or to the side is easier on your muscles, as long as you use your legs to initiate the movement. Avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and sudden twisting movements.

4)  Bend at your hips and knees, not at your low back:

Hinging at the hips when pushing forward or lifting helps maintain your neutral spine position and allows you to use those glutes, quads, and hams. Think of it like a workout, and you’ll actually have an easier and quicker time finishing the job.

5)  Warm up:

As with any other strenous activity or workout, warmup is the key, so do take the time to warm up your muscles with some full body movements (squats, up and down stairs, etc.) and follow with back and leg stretches.

6)  Take a breather:

You must listen to your body and stop to take a rest if you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain, don’t push through it or you’ll be sorry.

It is also important to teach this technique to any little helpers you may have, so they learn the proper technique early on and prevent injury.

Common injuries associated with shoveling include low back joint sprains, rotator cuff strain, muscle pulls, and of course disc protrusion. If you do feel soreness that persists more than a day, it may be a good idea to see your chiropractor for a tune-up. So take it easy out there and enjoy the winter!!

Dr. Manik Bhan
Dr. Bhan’s diverse background and skill set allow him to administer this effective integrated treatment approach in the areas of acute and chronic pain management, acute injury care, functional training and rehabilitation, post-surgical rehabilitation, sport-specific personal training, and improving athletic performance. He has had tremendous success in assisting a wide variety of patients achieve a healthier, pain free lifestyle.