by Dr. W. Brent Reynolds, DC DACNB BCN
- Get your blood pumping and joints moving by stretching the arms, back, shoulders and legs before heading outdoors. Devoting a few minutes to exercise prepares your body for the vigors of shoveling and helps avoid any muscle pulls.
• Reduce your risk of developing hypothermia, a dangerous condition where body temperature drops. Dress warmly. Layers are best.
• To maximize your footing and help minimize the risk of a fall, wear sturdy boots/shoes with good tread. If possible, try sprinkling some sand underfoot to provide some extra traction.
• Use a lightweight, ergonomically-designed, non-stick shovel.
• Plan to shovel when the snow is fresh and light — clear your walkway before it becomes compacted.
• If the snow is deep, be sure to clear layer by layer.
• Shovel the snow closest to you; overstretching to lift can strain your lower back.
• Start slowly and pace yourself to avoid placing a sudden stress on your heart. Cold air makes it harder to breathe and work, placing more demand on your body.
• When shoveling, try to push the snow to the side, rather than lifting. Stand with your feet apart at hip width to maintain proper balance.
• If you must dig and toss the snow, lift with your legs, keeping your back straight; tighten your stomach muscle to avoid straining your back.
• Avoid twisting your body; rotate your entire body to face the direction you are throwing in.
• Make sure to keep hydrated. Avoid caffeinated drinks.
• Pace yourself and know when to call it quits. If you’re feeling pain or exhaustion, take a break.
• Avoid shoveling altogether if you are elderly, a heavy smoker, have a heart condition, a history of back problems, or lead a sedentary lifestyle. Enlist the help of family members or kind neighbors.
Even the best laid plans go astray. Injuries sometimes do occur, despite the best intentions to shovel properly. Lower back strain, muscle spasms, disc damage, and even spinal fractures are frequently experienced after shoveling.
If you experience pain, seek help immediately. Call us at 631 265 1223. We’ll help pinpoint the cause of the pain, relieve the problem, and get you feeling in tip top shape again!