While Nassau County has been mostly devoid of snowfall this winter, temperatures have dropped of late, leading weather-savvy residents to believe that the first snowfall of 2012 may be coming sooner rather than later.
And when that day comes, South Shore residents will be left with the grueling task of shoveling snow off their stoops, sidewalks and driveways. Determined to finish the task as quickly as possible, many people ignore proper shoveling techniques, leading to muscle strain and back pain. Fortunately, local chiropractors are offering tips on how to avoid discomfort while shoveling snow.
Richard Seibert, a Merrick chiropractor with a practice on Merrick Avenue, said that while most individuals tend to exercise their extremities, such as arms and legs, on a regular basis, they might forget to exercise their cores, especially their backs, which is the part of the body that becomes most affected while shoveling snow.
“So when you go to call on [little-used muscle groups], they may not be there to serve you,” said Seibert. “What happens is the vertebrae sub-block, they pinch nerve roots, can compress discs, and that leads to really painful low-back conditions.”
Another tip, said Dana Weissman Timmins, a Bellmore chiropractor with an office on Bedford Avenue., is to remember to properly stretch before shoveling snow. “As with any good workout, you have to do a warm-up first,” said Weissman Timmins. “When you’re outside, and the temperatures are freezing, it can really wreak havoc on your joints.”
Remaining hydrated is also important, even in the cold weather. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 degrees or if it’s 100 degrees outside,” said Weissman Timmins.
Avoiding coffee and nicotine before shoveling could help prevent injuries as well. “They’re stimulants, so they can cause your blood vessels to constrict, and that puts more pressure on your heart, delivering less blood to your muscles,” said Weissman Timmins.
She emphasized the importance of bending the knees and lifting with the legs, as opposed to lifting from the back. Also, keeping your feet shoulder-length apart and maintaining balance takes stress off the spine.