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Dealing with the Snow, Watch your Back!

Winter weather has finally arrived, and that means it’s time to grab the shovel and dig yourself and/or your neighbors and friends out of the snow.  Here are some shoveling tips to ensure that you don’t shovel yourself into the ER with a sore or thrown out back.

  1. Take your time.  Don’t plan on getting your entire drive or walk cleared in one go.  Shoveling is very strenuous work and you will be using muscles that you likely haven’t used since last winter.  Spend 10-15 mins clearing snow then go back inside to get warm and take a break.  Repeat this until the area is cleared.

  2. If the snowfall is deep, don’t try to take the entire shovel width at once, cut the depth in half and move a little bit at a time.  More shovels, less weight, happier back.

  3. If you have a long driveway, move your vehicle to end of the drive before the snow falls.  Then you only have to dig out around your car, and the entire driveway can wait until later, or until the snow melts.  Clear a path TO the car instead of a path FOR the car, your back will thank you!

  4. If the snowfall happens while you are awake, make time during the snowfall to clear some of the snow away.  Sure, more snow is still falling, but a little now, and a little later is better than attempting to clear all of the accumulation at once.

  5. Watch your form.  Shoveling snow isn’t an Olympic event that you’ll get points deducted for bad form, but you will do damage to backs, knees, arms, shoulders, and necks if you are sloppy in your shoveling.  Try to keep your body as upright as possible, use your knees to lift the shovel fulls, and pay super close attention to how you toss that snow.  The worst thing you can do for your back is to lift and twist at the same time while carrying a heavy load.  Try to move the snow so you are tossing in front of you, not to either side.

If you do find yourself with a sore back or other part of your body after shoveling out this weekend, don’t wait to seek treatment!  Start with a soak in the tub with some Epsom salts (1 cup to a full tub).  If the pain persists the next day, schedule a massage to work out the soreness and strain in the muscles.  If the massage isn’t enough to clear up the shoveling blues, then a chiropractor/osteopath should be your next stop.

Stay safe this weekend!

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