This Winter Don’t Earn Your Back Pain

Winter weather brings injuries of many types. I’ve noticed a trend in my 16 years of practice that about a week after a snow storm, we get very busy. It’s all those slips, falls, shovelling and the motor vehicle accidents. Our bodies can sometimes end of being a bigger mess than the snow remaining in the streets. 

So what is a person to do? Well, first of all, being ready for winter is your best bet. We all know we should put on winter tires and maybe have a bag of salt in the garage, but what are some other tips to avoid the common back pains of winter?  

In case of snowstorm, you can utilize some of these tips to keep you safer:

 #1:      Don’t let the snow pile up.....move smaller amounts of snow so you don’t overload yourself.

    #2:     Pick the right shovel.....good ones include lightweight pusher type shovels (I kind of like those bending handle ergonomic ones).  Metal shovels can be sprayed with Teflon so the snow won’t stick to them.

    #3      Push, don’t throw.....avoid lifting heavy snow and sudden twisting and turning movements.

    #4      Bend your knees and keep your back out of a flexed posture. If you do need to lift snow, keep you body braced with air and keep a neutral or slightly extended lumbar spine. Did you know that one of the biggest back stabilizers is air? It’s true. A nice flattened diaphragm is very bracing for your back. 

    #5     Warm up....go for a short 10 minute walk.

    #6     Take a once in a while and if you feel chest or back pain, stop immediately.....if the chest pain is severe, see a medical doctor at the ER, if you have back pain, see your chiropractor.

    #7    Stay hydrated....You need to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after any winter sports. Some days shovelling counts as a winter sport. 

Instead of a flexed posture with shovelling or lifting a bag of salt, think hip hinge and neutral spine. If you flex over, you earn your pain. There is massive amount of compression in your discs in a flexed posture. It’s the posture that causes disc damage, protrusions and extrusions. You don’t want a sick disc; just ask anyone who has had one. Not fun, and a long recovery. 

Here are some examples of snow removal technique. Note the difference between a healthy posture and a compromised one!!!

Dr. Jen is our snow model today…...

Compromised flexed position - you risk your disc!!! BAD FORM

Notice the hip hinge and the flatter low back  GOOD FORM

Another example of a flexed back - BAD FORM!!!!!

Notice the hip hinge and the flatter low back. GOOD FORM   

If you have a sore back, get it properly evaluated. Back pain isn’t normal, it’s a problem and it is fixable in many cases. A big part of that puzzle is to STOP doing the things that make it worse. Back pain is an indication that there are facilitated and irritated nerves and tissues in your body. There are positions that you can get into that will take away your pain and there are positions and movement patterns that you are currently doing that are making them worse. You need to stop picking the scab, so to speak. 

In the clinic, one of my jobs is to help you figure out what what helps and what harms, and then get you to start using “spine sparing” movement patterns to help your back heal. Pushing a grocery cart, getting off the toilet, lifting your child, opening a door or getting into your car. Daily activities that can be done with less pain if you know how to do them properly for YOUR back pain case. 

If you have questions about how you can start moving in a spine sparing manner, please give our office a call. 

Move better, move often and Happy New Year. 

Yours in Health,

Dr. Jen

© Jennifer Forbes 2015