Canadian Poll Says Snow Shoveling Number One Cause of
Winter Back Pain
A new poll from Canada points to snow shoveling as the
leading cause of back and neck pain during the winter months. In the poll,
73 per cent of Ontario chiropractors surveyed say improper shoveling
technique tops the list of reasons for winter back pain problems.
story, reported in the January 9, 2003 Canadian News Wire, Quotes Dr. Dennis
Mizel, President of the Ontario Chiropractic Association, who said, "Chiropractors are finding that some patients experience back and neck pain
as a result of improper snow shoveling technique. 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
Dr. Kristina Peterson, a chiropractor in Thunder Bay was
also quoted in the article, "Back problems can surface in patients during
the winter, especially those who are unaccustomed to participating in
challenging physical activity on a regular basis. 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."
The Ontario Chiropractic Association offers the following
preventive measures to help keep backs in shape:
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.
the snow pile up. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is
less strenuous in the long run.
right shovel. Use a lightweight push-style shovel. If you use a metal
shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow won't stick.
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.
knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting
while keeping your back straight.
break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stop
shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.