Learn to Prevent Back Injuries While Shoveling This Winter

Dr. Miaken Zeiger | Monday December 16, 2019

Man wearing dark coat and jeans shoveling home driveway using a red shovel

Supporting a Healthy Spine & Body.

Late December brings the start of winter, and although we enjoy milder weather here in Colorado, this year, we’ve found our autumn interrupted early! With the colder season comes the arrival of snow, ice, and shoveling. Supporting your health during this time requires some alternative techniques; and this preparation can make all the difference in supporting a healthy spine and body!

Shoveling is the most common cause of back injuries during the winter months. Proper technique is vital to preventing injury and further stress to your structure. Follow these instructional tips to help you shovel safely:

Avoid shoveling after eating or while smoking.
• Shoveling is a weightlifting exercise so it’s recommended you warm up thoroughly; five to ten minutes of brisk walking, marching in place or another full body activity to get your blood moving. Stretch your low back and hamstrings, limber up your arms and shoulder with a body hug that you hold for 30-60 seconds.
• If possible, shovel fresh snow, it’s easier than wet, packed-down snow. In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than trying to shovel all at once.
Push snow forward rather than lifting it out of the way; pick up only small amounts when needed.
Use your legs, not your back. Legs should be bent and back straight. Bend and “sit” into the movement, allowing large muscle groups to do most of the work.
Avoid twisting your back; always pivot your whole body to face the new direction.
• Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous. Never work to the point of exhaustion. Take frequent breaks. If your chest feels tight, stop immediately.

If you do hurt yourself this winter, I recommend the following natural alternatives to support your body’s best healing and relief.

1. See your chiropractor. Chiropractors specialize in helping the brain and body restore healthy physiology, function and alignment. This supports your body’s ability to heal from an injury or fall, reduce inflammation, and ease your symptoms.
2. Utilize ice/heat in combination. Ice constricts (makes smaller) blood vessels, heat dilates (makes bigger) blood vessels. Using ice and heat in combination brings vital nutrients through your circulatory system to support injured tissue. Recent studies indicate ice is often used too soon for acute injuries as it can stop the acute inflammatory process prematurely and lengthen healing time.
3. Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt is a great source of magnesium. When you experience significant tension and tightness in your musculoskeletal system, it can be a sign of magnesium deficiency. Soaking, a minimum of 20-minutes, allows your body to directly absorb Mg into your system to help relieve muscle tension, improve healing and promote relaxation.
4. CBD topical/cream. CBD binds to pain receptors to help reduce the pain sensation you experience and provide a therapeutic benefit of an anti-inflammatory. CBD cream can be used topically, in the area of concern.
5. Hydration. 75% of our bodies are made up of water, therefore, water is essential in supporting the restoration of body function. Discs located between each vertebra of the spine should be well hydrated. When dehydrated, your body will pull from areas of hydration, including your discs. Additionally, injury, poor alignment and movement patterns with the stress of gravity contribute to compressed discs.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oils.) Fish oil supplementation is a powerful anti-inflammatory shown to provide pain relief with significantly less side-effects compared to over-the-counter and prescriptive pain medications. If you are on anticoagulants or have fish allergies, consult your doctor before use.

Join us next time as we learn about the Winter Waddle: Tips for Walking Safely on Ice!

As always, I am here to support you for your best health and healing. You choice today, can change the trajectory of your health for years to come! Yes, it can take work and preparation… and a healthy body is worth it! Love and light to you this holiday season!

Yours in Health, Dr. Miaken

1. Minnesota Department of Public Safety
2. Mother Nature Network
3. Daniel J. Murphy, D.C.


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