Snow Shovelling Number One Cause of Winter Back Pain

“Lift light, shovel right” say back specialists

TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ – A new poll released today points to snow shoveling as the leading cause of back and neck pain during the winter months. 73 per cent of Ontario chiropractors surveyed say improper shoveling technique tops the list of winter back pain woes.

“Chiropractors are finding that some patients experience back and neck pain as a result of improper snow shoveling technique,” said Dr. Dennis Mizel, President of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. “Improper technique can be anything from bending at the waist instead of the knees to throwing snow instead of pushing it. When you combine improper technique with the average weight of one shovelful of snow (five to seven pounds) it becomes even more evident that this is a serious problem for both adults and the children who help them.”

National public opinion research firm, Pollara, recently conducted the survey among members of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. Pollara surveyed a total of 500 chiropractors from across the province. The survey is accurate to within (+/-) 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

“Back problems can surface in patients during the winter, especially those who are unaccustomed to participating in challenging physical activity on a regular basis,” said Dr. Kristina Peterson, a chiropractor in Thunder Bay. “Activities requiring exertion that is higher than one’s daily routine such as winter sports or pushing stuck cars can cause back injuries. However, snow shoveling is the number one reason patients present with back pain in the winter.”

Don’t let winter be a pain in the back – ‘Lift light, shovel right.’ Education and preparedness are the keys to correcting this seasonal problem. The Ontario Chiropractic Association offers the following preventive measures to help keep backs in shape:
1. Warm-up. Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. A good warm-up should include stretches for the back, shoulders, arms and legs. This will ensure that your body is ready for action.

2. Don’t let the snow pile up. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.

3. Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow won’t stick.

4. Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

5. Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

6. Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.

Founded in 1929, the Ontario Chiropractic Association represents the professional interests of more than 2,800 Ontario chiropractors. Chiropractic is a regulated health care profession recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces, and is one of the largest primary contact health care professions in Canada. Every year approximately 4.5 million Canadians use chiropractic services. @ 8:52 pm | Article ID: 1042433526