Winter is not over yet!
For the most part, this winter has been warm and snow free. So just when we thought we had put the season behind us, we are reminded that it is not over yet by getting several inches of snow, with several more expected for some areas. Some people are happy about this, because it means they get to do fun winter activities like sledding, building snowmen, or having snowball fights. But many other people have a different feeling when they see all of that snow; a feeling of dread about having to shovel it!
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For some people, shoveling snow can be difficult and dangerous. Almost everyone is aware that it can place a large amount of stress on the heart, but many do not consider how much strain shoveling can put on the back as well. Every year thousands of people hurt their backs doing it, and those injuries can range from mild ones such as a minor back strain or muscle fatigue to more serious problems like fractures or damage to the discs in the spine. It is vital to take precautions before shoveling so that any type of injury can be avoided. These are the 13 tips everyone should know:
- Make Sure You're Wearing The Right Clothing
When spending a long amount of time in cold weather, it is important to wear clothing in layers that is easy to move in and is not restrictive. It's also a good idea to wear a hat, because the majority of people's body heat is lost through their head. Some may find it helpful to wear a scarf to keep their face warm and protect it from blowing snow while shoveling. Finally and maybe most important proper boots are needed, not only for keeping your feet warm and dry, but also for providing traction to help with balance on slippery surfaces.
- Use The Correct Type Of Gloves
Of course everyone knows to have a pair of gloves to keep their hands warm. But certain types of gloves can make shoveling easier. For instance, gloves with leather or vinyl on the fingers and palms will help provide you with a tighter grip on the handle. This can help prevent the shovel from slipping, which could lead to a back injury. Also, thicker gloves protect your hands from blisters and callouses.
- Prepare Your Body For Shoveling
Just like when doing any exercises, warming up is crucial. So before beginning, take a few minutes to jog in place or do some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles. Warm muscles work better than cold ones and are less likely to be injured.
- Make Sure You Use The Appropriate Shovel For You
Using the correct shovel can play a big part in saving your back from injury or pain. Every person is different, so a shovel that works well for one person might not work best for another. Make sure yours is not too tall or short for you, which can cause you to have to awkwardly bend and hurt your back. Also be sure that your shovel is lightweight and has a curved handle, as this helps to keep your back straight while shoveling. And use the size blade that works best for you. A small blade can't pick up as much snow, but it also prevents you from picking up a load that is too heavy for you.
- Be Sure To Take Breaks As Needed
When shoveling, it is important to pace yourself. Take frequent breaks where you stand up straight, stretch your back, and roll your shoulders to relieve tension. Take your time, you don't need to finish your shoveling all at once.
- Keep Your Body Hydrated
Whether you are exercising or not, staying hydrated is always very important. Remember to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after shoveling snow, and avoid caffeinated drinks which can cause dehydration and lead to aches and pains.
- Remember To Use Your Legs
When you are bending over to shovel snow, make sure you are lowering yourself with your legs and NOT your back. By doing this you will help avoid added pressure on your spine which can lead to severe back injuries.
- Frequently Switch Positions When Shoveling
Doing any kind of repetitive motion for a long period of time will often lead to soreness. So, in order to lessen the chance of this happening while shoveling, alternate between tossing the snow to your right and to your left. Also, change your hand positioning so that you are gripping your shovel on the opposite side of your body.
- Use The Correct Grip On Your Shovel
Don't place your hands too close together when holding the shovel. Keep around 12 inches of distance so that you have more leverage, which make it easier to lift the snow.
- Lift The Snow Properly
It is crucial when shoveling that you lift the snow properly so that you protect your back from injury. Try to push the snow instead of lifting it, as this puts less strain on the spine. Stand with your feet the width of your hips apart and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (NOT the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift.
- Be Careful How You Throw The Snow
Once you have picked up the snow, turn your entire body in the direction that you want to toss the snow. By doing this you are tossing the snow in a straight-forward way. Avoid ALL twisting movements or torso rotations. Also, never throw the snow to the side or over your shoulder. Doing so puts too much pressure on the spine and can lead to injury.
- Pay Attention To What Your Body Is Telling You
Pay attention to the signals that your body is telling you. Stop immediately if you feel any type of pain, shortness of breath, or other problem. Listen to your body and know your limitations.
- When Finished, Relax With a Hot Shower
When you are all done, take a hot shower and stretch while under the hot water. By doing this you will help to relax your muscles, and it will lessen the chances of any aches and pains later.
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate people as much as possible about their back, neck, and sciatica pain, because it has been proven that the more people know about their pain the more likely they will be to get rid of it!
Our 9 Step Solution specializes in treating the causes of back pain and sciatica. Are you ready to put an end to your pain? Schedule a Free Consultation by calling us at 844-408-0462 or click here!
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