No matter where you live in Southern Ontario, snow is pretty much guaranteed. And while that means more chaos on the road for drivers, it also means more homeowners suffering from sore backs as a result of improper snow shovelling.
“Shovelling out after a storm doesn’t have to leave you stiff and sore,” says Ajax chiropractor Dr. John Noble.
In this video shot a few years ago during one of our bigger snowstorms, Dr. Noble offers a few common-sense tips on how to shovel safely.
Unfortunately, just because we’re Canadians doesn’t mean we’re experts when it comes to shovelling snow!
Follow these guidelines from the Ontario Chiropractic Association and with a little know-how, you can clear your driveway without any back, neck and shoulder pain ruining your day.
Before You Head Outside to Shovel
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in the winter months as it is in the summer.
Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as you get warm.
Wear proper footwear. Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body. An ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue. Also, if you spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant, the snow will slide off more easily.
Before beginning any snow removal, warm up for five to 10 minutes to get your joints moving and increase blood circulation. A brisk walk will do it.
Follow These Tips To Avoid Injury While Shovelling
1. Push, Don’t Throw
Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning — position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.
2. Bend Your Knees
Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.
3. Watch for Ice
Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can lead to ice building up underfoot, resulting in nasty slips and falls. Throw down some salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.
Once we “spring ahead” an hour this weekend and start enjoying extended hours of daylight, our urge to spend more time outside increases. Unless you’ve spent your spare time on a ski hill all winter, you’ve probably spent a good chunk of your working and free time indoors.
Now that the snow is gone (hopefully until next winter), you may be ready to get active outdoors. But before you pull on those jogging pants, hop on that bike or even start working in the garden, there are a few things you need to remember.
Ease into extra activity
To avoid injury, preparing your body is key, especially if you’ve been relatively inactive over the winter months. The “no pain, no gain” philosophy is outdated and will likely leave you in worse shape than when you started.
“It happens every year,” says Dr. John Noble of Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage. “We get a few warmer days and people go from little activity to a full day on the golf course or a morning spent in the garden…without any stretching or gradually working up to it.” Each spring, the warmer weather results in more patients seeking chiropractic care for back, shoulder and neck injuries. “It’s unfortunate because so many of these injuries could be avoided.”
Get a good night’s sleep
As we head into the summer months, it may be tempting to stay up later to enjoy the extra daylight. Extra-long days, more activity…what’s not to love?
Don’t underestimate the healing power of rest, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. Poor sleep patterns have been linked to weight gain, heart disease, stroke, depression, inflammation and cell damage. A good sleep pattern, on the other hand, can improve immune function, maximize athletic performance and improve concentration and productivity.
Getting enough fluids in warmer weather, especially as your activity level increases, is crucial to staying healthy. Drinking ample amounts of liquid helps to maintain your body’s functions, including your heart, brain and muscles. Staying hydrated allows your body to carry nutrients to your cells, maintain a normal temperature, digest food and flush bacteria and impurities from your body.
How much is enough? The actual amount varies from person to person and is dependent on a variety of factors, including your weight, height and activity level. Ask your doctor how much water you should be drinking each day.
Maintain a healthy immune system with chiropractic care
Although many people associate chiropractic care with the treatment of neck, shoulder and back pain — and this would be correct — visiting a chiropractor regularly can also aide your immune function. At Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage, our patients understand that by keeping their spine in proper alignment, all systems in their body are able to function at optimum efficiency, allowing messages to travel throughout their body freely and keep illness at bay.
The Village Chiropractic Clinic consists of a group of knowledgeable, and friendly professionals that have worked as a team to help me obtain and maintain my optimal health goal through chiropractic and massage therapy.