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Avoid Injury While Shoveling Snow

I prefer to live where it’s warm year round, but one year my husband and I decided to share a “White Christmas.” We drove to Idaho and rented a little cabin, and had a wonderful time - except for the snow shoveling we had to do every morning before heading off for some sightseeing in our car. It wasn’t just a bothersome chore, it left my husband with a sore back and midsection and he booked an appointment with our chiropractor as soon as we returned home.

As residents of Scottsdale, Arizona, snow shoveling isn't a chore you have to worry about. However, it’s winter time and blizzards are striking across the Midwest, and plenty of people are waking up early to shovel the snow from their driveways to get to work. And, like my husband and I, you too may find yourself digging your way out of snow on a family sky vacation. Chiropractors typically see an uptick in business during the winter, as clients injure their backs with the twisting and turning motion of shoveling and throwing snow or fall on slippery ice.

The American Chiropractic Association says that the common winter chore of snow shoveling can lead to spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems. Bending and twisting while holding a shovel of heavy snow can irritate lower back discs, while the overall physical exertion often results in painful injuries. 

Fortunately, the ACA has some tips for anybody shoveling snow this winter: 

  • Listen to the weather forecasts. If you’re going to need to shovel snow in the morning, wake up with enough time to do the job without rushing, which may lead to a greater chance of injury.
  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
  • Do some stretches to warm your muscles before you shovel. Focus on your shoulders, upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs.
  • When you shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it - walk it to the snow bank. As much as possible, avoid twisting and turning motions.
  • Bend your knees. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take regular breaks to give your muscles a break. A fatigued body is asking for an injury.
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, feel very tired, or have shortness of breath. 
  • If you are sore after shoveling snow, apply an ice bag to the area for 20 minutes a couple of times each day.

If your soreness, pain or strain doesn’t go away after following these tips, book an appointment with a chiropractor. They can help repair an injury and help the aches and pains of shoveling snow subside - and believe me, you won’t be their only client with snow shovelling injuries.

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