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Preventing Snow Shoveling Injury: Watch That Back!

Winter can be a wonderful time, but too much activity without proper preparation can spell trouble!

When the snow, ice and frigid weather blast into town, watch your back!  Winter recreational activities and chores can pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not in condition.  Winter sports like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle strains or tears if you’re not in shape.  Even shoveling snow the wrong way, clambering awkwardly over snow banks, slipping on sidewalks and wearing the wrong kind of clothing can pose the potential for strains and sprains.

Simply walking outside in the freezing weather without layers of warm clothing can intensify older joint problems and cause a great deal of pain.  As muscles and blood vessels contract to conserve the body’s heat, the blood supply to extremities is reduced.  This lowers the functional capacity of many muscles, particularly among the physically unfit.  If we know what areas of our bodies are most vulnerable, we can condition ourselves in the off-season to avoid injury and costly health care bills.

For the snow shoveler

-If you must shovel snow, be careful.  Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise
early and have time to shovel before work.


-Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.

-Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs.  So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.

-When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead; don’t try to throw it.  Walk it to the snow bank.  Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.

-Bend your knees to lift when shoveling.  Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.

-Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles.  A fatigued body asks for injury.

-Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath.  You
     may need immediate professional help.

If You Feel Pain…

After any of these activities, if you are sore, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours.  Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.  If the soreness doesn’t abate, you need to
call your chiropractor!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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