Snow Shoveling Safety

Well, it's just about that time again. The colors of fall abound, there is slight chill in the morning air that lets us know winter is on its way. Since the first snow fall is just around the corner, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about snow shoveling safety.

Many back and neck injuries occur in the winter as a result of shoveling snow. Experts in Colorado, where snow shoveling is an art form, agree that with just a few simple suggestions, you can protect your back and neck from potentially life changing injuries.

Since a lot of people are less active in the winter, it is wise to take it easy when shoveling snow. Don't over exert yourself while shoveling your driveway and sidewalk. Be sure to take frequent breaks. (Many people actually suffer heart attacks while shoveling their driveways and side walks.)

Follow safe lifting and bending guidelines when you shovel snow to protect against back and neck injuries. Bend with your knees, not your back! To pick up a shovel from the ground or lift a heavy slab of ice, bend at the knees, grasp the object with both hands and lift with your legs slowly and carefully. Always be sure of your footing on ice and bumpy snow before you shovel or lift.

When using your snow shovel, grasp the tool so that you work with your elbows slightly bent. Try not to bend over too much while working, as this puts undo stress on the delicate structures of the lower back. Work with your arms and legs, not your back. Throw snow in front of you, not to the sides. Consider using an ergonomically designed shovel, investing in a snow blower (my personal favorite) or hiring someone to shovel snow for you.

Even after you have read all of these suggestions and done your best to follow them, you still may suffer an injury. As a chiropractor I can help you get back on track! Don't delay calling when problems arise, as even a short delay in proper treatment can lead to a myriad of spinal and chronic health problems. The sooner you seek treatment the sooner you will return to your normal activities. In addition to spinal adjustments, we may also recommend other types of treatment for strengthening your back and relieving muscle tension. These additional treatments may include a personalized stretching and strengthening program, ice packs, moist heat (for certain conditions), electrotherapy, traction or spinal decompression.

Remember muscle relaxants, Tylenol and ibuprophen help you deal with the pain of the injury but do nothing to correct the cause of that injury; you should always seek professional advice and avoid self diagnosis.

Yours in health,

Dr. Joe