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Throw out the Snow – not your back!

Throw out the Snow – not your back!

snow and your backLast year we were blessed and the dreaded winter storms that seemed to get everyone else never got Oakville.  This year, if you believe the forcasters, we won’t be so lucky. So unless you made Canadian Tire richer and bought a snowblower, it is time to dust off the shovel and get to work.

It is imporant to be smart when shoveling.  Every winter I get at least 10 – 15 unlucky patients who have “thrown out” their back after shoveling themselves out of their driveways.  So what can be done besides bribing your children?  Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Take your time. It isn’t a race. Whipping through can increase your chance of injury as you start throwing snow and forget your proper mechanics.
  2. Stay square. Once your shovel is full of snow, move your hands down the handle, closer to the shovel, bend your knees and lift with your legs while keeping your back straight.
  3. Don’t throw for distance. As much as you may not like your neighbour, don’t try to cover their car with snow.  Even though it may be a cathartic experience for you, torquing your lower back is a great way to lock your sacroiliac joint (the two dimples you feel if you follow the crest of your hips into your lower back) and create “cracks” in the intervertebral discs which can lead to herniations.  Ouch.
  4. Follow the rules. When there is a large amount of snow or if it is really heavy, use the rule of thirds.  Visually divide the drift into thirds and lift it one third at a time. Like the layers of a cake, take the top, middle and then the bottom.  It may take a little longer, but so does coming to see me at the office.
  5. Stretch. Stretching out your gluteal muscles (your butt) is really important.  Laying on your back, bend both knees with feet on the floor, take your left foot and put it on your right knee.  Take your right hand, grab your left knee and pull across to your right shoulder.  Feel a gentle stretch in your left glute, PAIN FREE, and hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
  6. Wait for it to melt? Not a good idea, but you have to admit that it is temping on those cold days.

Any questions, contact David Ellis DO(MP) Manual Practice Osteoapthy.