No doubt if you have been shoveling snow over the past week, you have felt aches and pains afterward. Comments on my Facebook page included Sheila saying she felt â??like jello" after shoveling. Laurie said "my entire body is sore," and Jerre said "my neck and back are killing me."
Jefferson City chiropractor Dr. Richard Kayser has already seen people in his office looking for relief after shoveling the heavy snow. Kayser said people need to lift small amounts of snow and not hurry to get the job done. He said most back strain comes from lifting improperly and throwing the snow too hard. He recommends you choose a shovel that is chest high, and when you lift, keep the opposite hand close to the base of the shovel when lifting.
Kayser recommends people dress in layers to protect their back and kidneys from the cold, wear shoes with good traction to avoid slips and falls, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Physical therapist Ben Kuster of the St. Maryâ??s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic reminds people to bend at the knees and lift with their legs. He said people at most risk of back strain are those with chronic back problems. If the soreness doesnâ??t go away after a day or two of rest it might be time to call a doctor.
Both Kayser and Kuster agree ice is the best treatment for a new injury. Heat could help with a chronic condition. Other therapies they use include muscle stimulation, and exercises to improve flexibility, strength, posture and pelvic alignment. Kayser also uses spasm therapy and spinal manipulation.
Taking frequent breaks could help you avoid back pain, but also help you prevent another life-threatening condition -- a heart attack. Via Facebook, Kisha said she shoveled a little, and then sat a little. Jon said he shoveled for 20 minutes then sat for 20 more. He said as he gets older, he doesnâ??t hurt as much doing it that way.
Susan Robinson, a registered nurse in the St. Maryâ??s Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinic, said resting frequently is the key to giving your back, and your heart, a break. She said the combination of the cold weather, which works to constrict blood vessels, and the exertion of shoveling can lead to shortness of breath and even a heart attack. Those at risk are people who have suffered from previous heart condition. Robinson advises if you sit for a few minutes and still feel symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath or chest pain that is not going away, call 911.