Slips, back pain, falls, shoveling, snow
With the first snowfall of the winter, it gives us a quick reminder that winter is coming and it will stay for the next few months. We all love the nice storybook picture of winter landscape, but the reality is there are many perils that come with that winter scene. Every year as a chiropractor I see people in my office that have hurt themselves from shoveling snow or slipping on ice. We don’t shovel on a regular basis and then we ask our bodies to do it when it’s cold and lift sometimes very heavy snow and expect that our body will be fine with that. For some of you out there your body will not be fine with that, and you will get injured. So there are two options you can take. One, wait until the injury and deal with the consequences after it happens. Two, take some preventative steps to reduce the chance of injury. I know which one I choose.
Preventative steps take a few moment of your time.
• First, get you body warmed up. Get the blood flowing and get the muscles warmed to allow them to contract and release with efficiency. Spend 5 minutes running on the spot, lunges, or squats, gentle twisting and then gentle bending to get the lumbar muscles ready for the work.
• Second, dress warm, our body wants to direct blood to the muscles that are doing the activity, if we are cold or dress inappropriately, then our body has to shift blood to colder areas of the body to counteract the heat loss.
• Third, Stay hydrated, wintertime is a time of dry air, and many people don’t realized how quickly the dry air pulls the moisture out of our bodies. You know when you see your breath, that the moisture I am talking about.
• Fourth, use proper lifting techniques. The thing about this one, is everyone knows these techniques but they still tend to ignore them. So use your legs, don’t bend with the back and twist to lift the snow. This is the easiest way to injury your discs in your back. Keep your shoulders above your hips. Push the snow as much as possible instead of trying to lift it. Even with following steps one to three, if you don’t follow step four, your risk of injury is much higher.
Now that the snow removal is out of the way. Ice, is the next big one. Slips and falls send many people to the emergency room every year. Take care and try to keep hold of railings whenever nearby. With every slip of fall, it’s important to get checked out. We can jam our pelvis, or lumbar spine, strain our tailbone or give ourselves whiplash in the neck. Sometimes these falls can be small but lead to bigger problems later on if they are not addressed. The car is no different, motor vehicle accidents in winter increase with black ice and decreased visibility. So take care behind the wheel. If you are involved in an accident, even a minor one, make sure you are getting checked out, as sometime minor whiplash can lead to bigger problems years later. Take care this winter and have a happy holiday season.