When snow, ice and frigid winds blast into town, watch out. If your body is not in condition, the common winter chore of snow shoveling can present the potential for spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems, warns the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate lower back discs, according to ACA. In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, often results in painful injuries.
ACA advises you to be prepared and follow these tips for exercise of the snow shoveling variety:
•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 emergency medical assistance.
•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 you continue to feel soreness, pain or strain after following these tips, it may be time to visit a chiropractic physician.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA)