With parts of the country already recording the first snowfall of the season, chiropractors are reminding people to be careful when shoveling snow, which can put a tremendous strain on certain muscles.
Technology has given consumers more choices than in times past. The traditional snow shovel just had a wide blade attached to a wooden handle. Now you can buy a push blade with wheels, a less wieldy snow scoop, or a snow shovel that features an ergonomic handle.
Shoveling and scooping with a typical snow shovel can put significant strain on your neck and lower back muscles. However, pushing the snow with a push shovel lessens the strain. If the snow is particularly deep, you can use a snow blower to clear a path. Here are some other tips on how to clear your sidewalks and driveways without injuring your neck, shoulders, or back.
It is recommended to only shovel loose snow, never snow that is hard-packed or partially frozen, which is much heavier. Breaking dense or icy snow loose, then lifting a heavy, loaded shovel will increase the strain to your body and make it much more likely you will suffer an injury. Also, keep the shovel blade close to the body for better leverage.
Don’t wait for snow to pile up before shoveling. It is recommended to clear snow once it reaches an inch or two. It is better to shovel lighter, fresh snow several times than waiting to clear six inches of snow once.
Instead of shoveling and piling the snow, try pushing it to the side of the sidewalk or driveway. It’s not a race so take your time and take breaks, especially if you are out of shape. Too much exertion can cause dizziness and in extreme cases could cause a heart attack. Don’t heave snow; pile it at the edge of the walkway to reduce the potential of muscle strains.
The edge of the blade should be kept sharp. A dull edge adds friction and makes it harder to push. Make the investment to buy an ergonomic shovel to reduce the wear and tear on your back. Also, form counts: holding the handle midway will make it easier to shovel.
Only shovel small amounts at a time to keep the weight on the lighter side. When lifting the shovel, keep your torso aligned to avoid turning or twisting the neck. Use your legs, which have the body’s strongest muscles, to power the shoveling
If you feel achy after shoveling, go see your chiropractor to make sure there are no lingering effects and to work out the kinks. If you have in fact suffered an injury while shoveling snow, whether in your upper back, lower back, shoulders, or hips, it is highly recommended that you see a chiropractic specialist immediately. Receiving instant treatment for a pulled or strained muscle, slipped disc, or even a bruised hip after a fall can not only lead to less recovery time, but can also prevent long-term damage and the lower the possibility of reinjuring oneself at a later date.
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