Keep Your Neck & Back Pain-Free This Winter
Winter is upon us in full force, and the chance for ice and snow in the greater Baltimore area sticks around until at least March. When a big storm hits, the shoveling seems endless, and you usually end up on the couch and very sore when you’re finished. Here’s 10 ways to keep your neck & back pain-free this winter season.
1. Layer up! Wear loose layers of clothing to maintain your body temperature and keep your muscles warmed up and flexible.
2. Stretch! Stretch your muscles before you venture out in the snow. You want to make sure you pay attention to your arms, legs & lower back, as they’ll be taking on most of the stress from shoveling.
3. Push, don’t throw. As it melts and packs down, snow can become very heavy. The best time to shovel is during the snow, or right after it ends since it’s usually still light and fluffy. Scoop up some snow with your shovel and push it out of the way instead of picking it up & throwing it.
4. Bend at the knees. If you have to lift the snow to move it, bend with your knees and keep your back straight. Don’t round your shoulders, and use your arms as levers to pick up the shovel. Push your hips forward, and use your ab muscles to stabilize your lower back.
5. Don’t twist and shout. Try not to make any twisting motions with your back. This can aggravate sore muscles and potentially cause a strain or sprain—especially if you are twisting while lifting snow.
6. Get an ergonomic show shovel. Check your local hardware store for an ergonomic shovel that will reduce the stress on your muscles. Look for one with a D-shaped grip, a sturdy scoop with a steel edge, and long handle that may be curved or bent at an effective angle.
7. Look out below! Watch your footing & surroundings to make sure the area you’re standing on is clear of ice. Slip & falls can cause muscle strains and sprains, and can even damage joints. The jerking motion of keeping yourself from falling can also hurt muscles, so make sure you’re on a dry, clear patch.
8. Take breaks! After shoveling or working outside for 20 minutes, take a 5 minute break and drink some water. It may seem like a lot, but your body is working extra hard in very cold temperatures, and this time is crucial to give your muscles some rest and hydration to prevent injury.
9. Rest! Shoveling and working outside in the snow is very strenuous and tiring, so make sure to hydrate and get plenty of rest after you come inside and warm up. If you’re having sore muscles, try icing them for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off to help reduce inflammation and pain.
10. Avoid shoveling if possible. If you’ve got a history of back pain, neck pain, or other muscular/nerve problems, it may be safe to avoid shoveling altogether and hire a professional, friend, or neighbor to help you out. If you outsource your shoveling, share these tips to keep them safe as well!
If you’ve hurt yourself while shoveling, working outside in the snow, or even a car accident due to the snow, give us a call at (410) 877-8077 to help relieve your back pain, neck pain, or other problems so you can feel better, and live better.