By Laura Grimm

With all the snow and ice accumulation so far this winter, everyone is at a greater risk of slipping and falling, and of straining low back muscles while clearing the driveway. Some of the best ways to protect yourself are to be cautious on wet/icy walkways and to utilize proper lifting techniques, especially with snow removal. So, whether you use a snow blower or a shovel, here some tricks and techniques you can utilize to help protect your spine.

Princeton University Environmental Health and Safety provides some key points to remember when lifting a heavy object.
1. Warm-up: It is more likely for an injury to occur when the muscles are not properly warmed up and ready to absorb the stress they will undergo. A few stretches to get the blood flowing will go a long way.
2. Stand close: Standing close to the object will take more stress off the joints and muscles. A further distance to the object multiplies the force exerted on your low back.
3. Bend your knees: “Lift with your legs” is a common phrase we hear in regards to lifting heavy objects. The goal is to take the stress off your back to prevent overstretching of the low back muscles.
4. Grip the load: It is important to have a good grasp on what you are lifting because an unsteady object allows for the possibility of overstretching or straining your muscles.
5. Lower load in reverse: It is just as easy to injure yourself while lowering an object as it is when lifting. Remember to lower the object in the same manner as lifting, with your knees bent and the object close to your body.

Additionally, the twisting motion we use when lifting and shoveling snow puts a lot of strain on the large spinal muscles and joints of the back. One wrong move can turn can overstretch the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine, causing tearing, irritation and pain. Pain and inflammation are your body’s natural response to injuries in order to limit the motion in the injured area to allow for healing.

This video provided by Dr. Juehring at Palmer College of Chiropractic gives some helpful tips for snow shoveling:

With all the snow this year, some may already be experiencing pain. At Burkhart & Chapp Chiropractic it is our goal to get you back to health utilizing conservative chiropractic care in addition to our other advanced therapies.