The Snow is Falling…Do you know how to shovel without causing lower back pain?
The snow is falling! Winter is here to stay…at least for the next few months. It is time to dust off our snow shovels and get to work.
But did you know that one of the most common causes of shoveling lower back pain during the winter months is shoveling snow? The reason for this is usually because we must remove heavy snow over and over again. This repetitive heavy lifting can really put a strain on the muscles, ligaments and discs of the lower back. Using improper body mechanics while shoveling snow can cause significant stress to the lower back, leading to a muscle strain or even worse…a bulging disc.
Well, the snow needs to be shoveled. So here are a few tips on how to protect your spine during this process:
1. Pick the right snow shovel – A lightweight snow shovel with either a curved handle or one that allows you to adjust the length of the shovel will minimize the amount you have to bend forward while shoveling.
2. Warm up thoroughly – Shoveling snow is a workout! So treat it like one. Make sure you warm up properly before shoveling. Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than those that are warmed up the right way. Take 5-10 minutes before shoveling and take a brisk walk, march in place and then stretch your shoulders, lower back and hamstrings.
3. Pace yourself – It is better to shovel a small amount of snow more frequently rather than a large amount of snow all at once. When we become tired or form usually deteriorates. Take a 5 minute break every 10-15 minutes of shoveling. During that break, stretch the lower back by arching backwards.
4. Use proper body mechanics while shoveling. Square your shoulders and hips toward the snow you intend to shovel. Bend at the knees and hips, find a neutral pelvis and tighten your core muscles. Keep our loads light. Avoid twisting when shoveling. And switch your hand grip periodically.
5. Avoid shoveling on a slippery surface. If you need to shovel on a slippery surface, try spreading kitty litter or sand over the surface and make sure you wear shoes with good tread.
6. Use a snow blower if you have one.
7. Most of all, remember training your body in other ways can make you stronger for these necessary tasks. Strengthening your core muscles and improving your flexibility with daily exercise can make you stronger for things like shoveling snow.
ABS Pilates can help if you want to strengthen your core and improve your flexibility before you become injured. ABS Pilates can also help if you are recovering from an injury and want to return to your normal activities without pain or limitation.
ABS Pilates is now offering private and semi-private Pilates sessions with Amanda B. Smith, a licensed physical therapist who specializes in injuries to the spine.
Contact ABS Pilates today and feel stronger, better tomorrow!