With winter upon us we all need to be aware of shoveling properly and safely. Shoveling, like raking is a very unnatural motion and can lead to injury of the spine, mainly spinal subluxation. Two articles appeared in recent publications and i would like to share them with you.
One of two such articles appeared in the December 2009 issue of To Your Health magazine and the other on the NorthJersey.com local news website on January 6, 2010. The To Your Health article points out that the average shovel full of snow weighs about 5 to 10 pounds. They point out that the combination of bending, lifting, and twisting, along with the exposure to freezing weather conditions, can be stressful on the spine.
The two articles gave a list of helpful hints for proper snow shoveling to avoid spinal problems. These hints can not only be applied to snow shoveling, but also to many other similar activities. These include the following.
- Do a warm-up first. A tight, stiff body is asking for injury.
- Layer your clothing. Layered clothing will keep your muscles warm and flexible.
- Wear the right shoes. Choose shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact of walking on hard, frozen ground.
- Use the right size shovel. Your shovel should be about chest high on you, allowing you to keep your back straight when lifting.
- Drink lots of water. Drinking water frequently throughout the day helps to keep muscles and body hydrated.
- Use proper posture. When you do shovel, bend your knees and keep your back straight while lifting with your legs. Push the snow straight ahead; don’t try to throw it.
- Take your time. Working too hard, too fast is an easy way to strain muscles. Take frequent breaks.
- See your chiropractor. Gentle spinal manipulation will help keep your back flexible and minimize the chance for injury. If you do overdo it, your chiropractor can help you feel better and prevent more injury.