by Chiropractor Dr. Jon Gindhart
So it was bound to happen eventually…the first big storm of the season. With large amounts of snow predicted, I thought I would share some tips on how to shovel so you won’t hurt your back. The best way to not hurt your back is to NOT shovel! If you already have an injury or your back is not stable (or the last time you exercised was the last major storm a year ago), STOP and put the shovel down. There should be plenty of neighborhood kids who want to earn a few bucks shoveling. Every year, I see current and new clients who, when I ask them what happened, begin with, “Well, I was shoveling during that recent storm…”
If you are fit enough and strong enough to shovel (and you know who you are), then here are some tips to make the process as fun and injury free as possible:
1. Look at shoveling as exercise. Warm up before you go out, stretch, and start slowly.
2. Make sure you have boots with good tread, or use spikes to keep you from slipping.
3. For snowfall totals over 8 inches, consider shoveling in shifts during the storm so you aren’t trying to shovel all the snow at the end.
4. Shovel the snow in layers so you don’t overload the shovel. It may take a little longer, but trying to ‘power’ through it may cause you to injure your back and not be able to shovel anything.
5. Push the snow, if possible, instead of lifting it.
6. Use proper technique:
- Bend and lift with your knees.
- Once the shovel is off the ground, turn your ENTIRE body and dump the snow nearby. DO NOT twist your body or throw the snow far away (or behind you) and extend your back in the process.
- Take Breaks. Rest every 3 or 4 efforts so your back does not fatigue. This is when injuries happen most…the back gets tired, you get sloppy on technique, and BAM…pulled muscle.
7. Drink plenty of water…WATER. There will be plenty of time after for other beverages, if you choose. Shoveling snow is tough work, and you will sweat more than you think. Also, when you start to breath heavy, you will be breathing out warm vapor from the lungs and breathing in cold dry air. Because of these reasons, you will get dehydrated quickly, which will lead to muscle cramping and increase the risk of injury.
8. STOP shoveling if you feel any pain, have shortness of breath, excessive sweating, or experience light-headedness. Go inside, drink some water and rest. If the shortness of breath, sweating, or light-headedness continue or get worse, you may need to call 911.
That’s about it. If you take your time and follow the tips above, you should be able to get those sidewalks pristine, protect your spine, and maybe even have energy left over to build a snowman!
Dr. Jon is our Chiropractor serving clients in our Doylestown and Ottsville, PA offices. Dr. Ashley is our new Chiropractor serving clients in our Bethlehem and Ottsville, PA office. If you are experiencing unresolved chronic back pain, consider making an appointment with Dr. Jon or Dr. Ashley for an evaluation. For more information on the Well’s Chiropractic Care, please click HERE.
If the last time you exercised was the last major snow storm a year ago, and you want to embrace physical fitness on your journey to health, our Well Fitness trainers in our Ottsville location are here to support you. Try taking a yoga or a pilates group fitness class to help lengthen and strengthen your muscles to support you! For more information on the Well’s Fitness Center, please click HERE.
Experiencing tired and sore muscles after all of that hard work? Reward and support your body with a well-earned massage with one of our Well Spa therapists located in each of our Well of Life Center locations. For more information on the Well’s Massage Department, please click HERE.