Now that winter is here and the snow will soon start to pile up, snow activities like skiing and snowboarding become common. But, as much as we love the snow, we hate to clean up and take the time to shovel our driveways and sidewalks.

Snow shoveling is an inevitable winter tasks, but many people don’t like doing it because it can have a negative impact.  In fact, a number of injuries occur each year due to the simple task of shoveling the snow. Among these are slips and falls, as well as soft tissue injuries and lower back pain.

According to a study at The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, there is a significant number of individuals who suffer from snow shoveling injuries, and an even higher percentage of those are soft tissue injuries and lower back pain. Out of the 195,000 individuals involved in the 17-year study period, 54.7% were diagnosed with soft tissue injuries, while 34.3% were diagnosed with lower back pain. Acute musculoskeletal exertion accounted for 53.9%, while slips and falls accounted for 20%.

For individuals suffering from lower back pain caused by snow shoveling, Chiropractor Manhattan offers techniques on treating lower back pain more effectively and without any form of invasive procedures. In order to avoid triggering lower back pain when snow shoveling, it is important to execute the task properly by doing things like the following:

  • Warm up before you shovel. Just like warming up before exercise, warm up your body before you take on strenuous shoveling.
  • Work with your legs, not with your back. Use your legs when lowering yourself to dig up the pile of snow rather than bending down using your back.
  • Take a break. Yes, you may be in a hurry to clear up the path outside your home, but will it be worth it if you have back pain? Consider taking a break after fifteen minutes. Do a little stretching and drink lots of water.
  • Dig up smaller portions of snow at one time and not a heavy load of it. Pain on our lower backs is often caused by carrying a heavy load.  Therefore, digging up small portions of snow will reduce the chances of pain.
  • Use proper outwear and durable tools when shoveling the snow. Dressing properly will help you effectively shovel a huge pile of snow, as will having the right tools.

Source: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine; January 2011, Vol 29, Issue, 1, pages 11-17.

-Dr Sid
Esprit Wellness