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Shoveling Tips From Your Frederick MD Chiropractor

low back pain

Winter weather warning for Frederick MD Area? Here are some shoveling tips to prevent low back injury.

Shovel: Choose a shovel that is appropriate for your strength and size. Shovels with a smaller blade make the load lighter and less cumbersome. You will not be able to shovel as much snow per load, but the load will place less stress on the spine. Plastic shovels are a better option over metal, to decrease the weight load of the snow.

Ergonomically designed shovels have an angular shaft to keep the body more upright and minimize stress on the spine and back when shoveling. Shovels that are designed for pushing decreases the force necessary to move the snow. It is far easier to push snow than to lift it.

Technique: Push the snow using a shovel designed for pushing. This decreases the amount of force necessary to move the snow. Avoid throwing or lifting the snow as much as possible. If you have to throw, avoid turning and twisting the spine. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart to maintain balance and to have a solid base. Keep the shovel close to your body. With your feet planted firmly, tighten your abdominal muscles, maintain a curvature in the lumbar spine and bend at the knees to lift the snow with your legs. If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet and do not twist your body! Twisting combined with compression (lifting snow) leads to disc injury such has disc herniation. Allow your legs and thighs to help your upper body and arms deposit the snow to the side. If you have to throw the snow, position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile. Deposit the snow as close to where you are shoveling it to decrease the workload.

Tips to avoid injury:

  • Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes prior to shoveling. Warming up the body gets the joints moving and increases blood circulation. A good warm-up should include stretches for the back, shoulders, arms and legs. This will ensure that your body is ready for action.
  • Work at a pace fitting your age and strength. If you are huffing and puffing, stop and rest.
  • Lift light to moderate amounts of snow
  • Pace yourself during shoveling activities
  • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water

If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately and seek assistance.

It’s always wise to have a Doctor of Chiropractic examine your spine to make sure that it is conditioned for strenuous physical activities, especially the rigors of snow shoveling. Dr. Autumn Fox at Valley Chiropractic in Frederick can examine the spine and determine if any misalignments or muscular imbalance will lead to injury.