As the Fall season has passed and Winter has begun, we will start the fall cleanup of raking leaves and preparing for that dreaded shoveling of snow for those Cincinnati winters. Here are a few tips on how to prevent injuries, reduce pain and muscle soreness by providing you follow a few simple tips and precautions to prevent that low back pain .
Just like any other physical activity, perform several stretches for 5 to 10 minutes in order to warm up the muscles and prepare your body for extended periods of raking, lifting, bending and twisting. Strains and pain occur when you put your body in an abnormal position. Make sure you pay attention to form while raking by keeping your legs slightly bent, keep your body centered and try not to reach too far out which extends and put additional pressure on your upper and lower back area's. As my Father has always said, good equipment makes the job a lot easier so make sure you have a good quality rake, pair of shoes, leaf blower and tarp makes things a lot easier or you can sweep the leaves and drag them in the woods or prepare for a big pile to put in trash bags. In order not to fatigue one spinal area, I'll try to alternate hands/side while raking so you can give the muscles on your dominant side a little bit of a break. It is important to take breaks every once in a while (every 15-20 minutes) not to exhaust your muscles and allow recovery and not to completely wear out and fatigue one side of your body.
You never know how much snow shoveling as in Cincinnati you can get sometimes an inch or as many as over 10 inches here one time. As a adult it isn't as much fun as the phone call or News Flash for being off school that day. Just like with raking leaves, it's even more important to have the appropriate equipment, warm up and paying attention to proper form in order to prevent strains of your back and injuries while shoveling .
While it is extremely cold outside, it's still important to warm up the muscles as you're venturing out in the cold to shovel for extended periods of time as Cold/frigid temperatures will tighten and spasm muscles... so it is very important to do some stretches and have the proper form while shoveling snow at all times. As stated earlier, equipment to make the job a lot easier, so wear snow boots that give you good traction and keep your feet warm and toasty. Choose an angled shovel that will take the pressure off your back and reduce the amount of lifting, bending, twisting that you will need to do. While shoveling, the proper technique is important, make sure that your feet are spread shoulder apart, push the snow rather than lift, keeping the shovel close to your body. Use your legs and hips and try to keep your back straight and don't bend at the waist as this will irritate or strain your back. With the cold temperature, one will try to speed up to finish the job... take your time with multiple breaks every 15 to 20 minutes or so, alternate sides and be careful of the ice so that you don't slip. If you do experience pain or any kind make sure you stop immediately and seek assistance. For minor low back pain and injuries, rest, ice to the affected area and for treatment back and musculoskeletal injuries consult Sheppard Chiropractic as we are here to help.