‘Tis the Season for Low Back Pain
Snow has finally arrived and it’s time to break out the ice melt and shovels. Many of us may be familiar with the low back ache that can follow digging out from one of New England’s winter events. Engaging in snow shoveling is a complex activity that requires proper body mechanics and precaution. The constant, repetitive motions create both aerobic and anaerobic exercise simultaneously and are similar to walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or lifting weights.
Snow shoveling can simulate an intense workout, and cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed-up, flexible muscles. Performing light dynamic stretching before and static stretching after is advisable to decrease strain to your lower back, legs, shoulders, and arms. Maintaining adequate fluid intake will also keep the muscles hydrated and decrease episodes of muscle spasm. Proper body mechanics while shoveling are essential to getting through the daunting task without pain. Keeping a straight back, bending your knees while scooping, maintaining feet shoulder width apart, spacing hands apart for better leverage, and lifting with your legs, not your back, are things you can do to prevent low back pain. Avoid twisting to throw the snow and, whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. If you’re in a tight spot and need to throw the snow, keep the load light to decrease your risk of injury. Take your time and take breaks as needed. Practicing these guidelines will help decrease chances of developing new back pain or worsening existing back pain while shoveling.
Stop shoveling immediately if you have low back pain. Pain may vary from a slight ache to sharp stabbing pain. Use ice, not heat, as heat can increase swelling.
If back pain persists after a couple of days of rest, call our office today at 603-627-6381 if you suffer from an old or new injury so we can help.