Snow and Back Pain

Is snow causing aches in your shoulders, back and everywhere in between?

Dr. Karen and I were chatting just the other day about how the clinic always seems to be a bit busier after winter storms. And there’s usually a common culprit: snow shoveling!

Considering January is just getting started, we wanted to provide you with a few tricks to help manage any stiffness or pain you might experience while shoveling snow. Check out the videos to see good and bad lifting techniques in action!

  • Warm up your muscles! The easiest change can make the biggest difference – take a few minutes to move around or do some jumping jacks to get your muscles warmed up before you start.
  • Push, don’t lift! Pushing snow is a lot easier than any lifting so try to push whenever you can.
  • Lift light to lift right! I don’t know about you, but I’m not training to become a professional snow shoveler! Pushing and lifting smaller amounts of snow is easier on your body.
  • Pick a good shovel! Using a lightweight, push-style shovel puts less strain on your body. You may also consider using a smaller blade: these are usually lighter in weight and the smaller blade will force you to lift less snow.
  • Use a wide grip when lifting! This decreases the strain on your body.
  • Lift with your legs! Try to squat down and bend your knees when you have to lift, driving through your feet to stand. This decreases the strain on your low back.
  • Shove, don’t throw! Instead of twisting through your low back, push the handle through your hands to unload the snow.
  • Watch out for any ice! Using salt and sand can help to limit any nasty slips or falls.

Hopefully these tips can help you stay up and moving through the winter months. But if you start feeling discomfort or stiffness, we’re here to help you get back to moving with ease!

Video Demonstrations!

Shoveling Don’ts
Shoveling DO’s!

Lower Crossed Syndrome

 The body is amazing in that everything’s connected. Unfortunately that means when the muscles in your hips tighten up it can lead to low back pain. This compensation is so common it has its own name: Lower Crossed Syndrome.

lower crossed 2

Imagine an “X” across the hip (or just look at the image!). One line connects the low back and the front of the hip (the “tight” line) and another connects the front of the abdomen to the glutes (the “weak” line).

The hip flexors, the muscles at the front of our leg responsible for hip flexion, can tighten and tilt our pelvis forward. This forces our low back to arch and the muscles in our low back tighten to keep our body upright. This becomes a problem when our hip flexors and low back muscles are constantly active and tight.

This leads to compensations in our abdomen/core muscles as well as glute muscles. These muscles become “weak” or underactive. It’s not necessarily that the abdominal and glute muscles aren’t strong (we see you doing those squats and crunches!) but they’re not “turning on” to help keep us upright.

To fix the problem you have to address both the “tight” and “weak” lines – loosening “tight” muscles and retraining “weak” muscles – and chiropractic can help with both! One of the major causes of tight hip flexors is sitting. So taking breaks every 20 minutes and moving around can help prevent this from becoming a problem. And of course stretching out those hip flexors will help – stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages this week to see how you can stretch out your hip flexors!