By Dr. Dan Dangpricha

I thought an article on avoiding back pain from shoveling snow would be appropriate this December. The following are tips that can help you prevent injury and help you get through the dreadful snow shoveling season.

#1) Machine beats man every time when it comes to avoiding back pain from shoveling snow.

Unless you are a fitness fanatic don’t even attempt to lift a thousand pounds of snow. If hiring a plow service is out of your budget, try to obtain a snow blower. This may still be an expensive option, however there are several older or used models for purchase that should be less costly.  If you compare the cost of the blower versus the cost of avoidable treatment for your back pain, it may be in your favor  to purchase the blower.

#2) Always remember your options

For the people without a snow blower, shoveling is a necessary evil and is very harsh on the shoulders and lower back, even in light snows. Using a battery operated leaf blower for the light snows is much easier on your body.  If you have to shovel something heavier, try an ergonomic shovel with a bend in it. These shovels are designed to help decrease the amount of stooping over while shoveling for long periods. This shovel design and smaller shovel scoops may save you from some pain the next day.

#3) Chiropractic can help your back more when problems are small.

A little preventative maintenance in the form of an adjustment immediately before and/or following a big snow is a lot better than waiting until your back is in a full spasm. Treatment is much more comfortable and effective this way.

#4 Keep that core tight!

On top of all of these tips, you will injure your back far less when your core muscles are strong and your spinal muscles are conditioned for activity.  If you are not at your healthy weight and fitness level, there is no better time than the present to start.  Whether you are a gym person or an outdoor lover, there are plenty of options out there for you.  If you are unsure of your capabilities and have a history of pain with activity or injury, you may want to meet with a Physical Therapist or Rehab specialist to assess what you are capable of to get you started on the right foot.

Winter can be a very busy time of the year in which injuries can occur frequently with snow and ice.  With a little effort and time, you can avoid these injuries and save yourself the expense of costly medical bills.  If you feel like something is wrong don’t wait until things get  bad before seeing a licensed healthcare provider.  This will help you avoid lengthy treatment!