Winter Storm Safety Tips: Prevent back pain and other health events

Carlo Alfano has a degree in Health and Fitness Management from Marymount University.  During his 15 years in the health and fitness industry, he’s worked with a wide variety of people, coaching them to lead healthier lifestyles. The last 8 years his main focus has been in the corporate environment working one on one and in group settings to help employees work more efficiently by improving their overall health. Here at Inova employees can participate in one on one coaching and group coaching through the employee based WellAware program which focus on 5 dimensions of health: Be Aware, Get Active, Eat Well, Health Mind, and Health Coaching.

Looks like we are getting a sizeable amount of snow tonight into tomorrow. This is the time of year where doctors’ offices get filled with patients who injured their back from shoveling too much snow. I mean it’s not something we do every day right!? And while some of us are in great shape and have no issues shoveling snow, there are others of us who are dreading having to do so.

If you are prone to low back pain, currently have back pain, have a weak core and are not in good physical condition here are some tips to help you get through this storm event free:

  1. Proper warm up is important. Don’t just get dressed, and run out and start to shovel. Take a few minutes and do some light stretching of the legs, lower/upper back.
  2. Shovel often. Don’t wait until the end of the storm to go out and shovel. Try to get out every couple hours to shovel the snow. Believe me it will help!
  3. Use an ergonomic shovel. They really do make a difference.
  4. Don’t fill the shovel with more snow than you can handle. Snow is heavy. Take your time and don’t try to rush to clear your walkways/driveway and risk getting injured. Take your time.
  5. Lift with your legs, not your back. You should avoid bending from your hips to lift your shovel and avoid constant turning at the waist when carrying heavy snow.
  6. Wear a weight belt. Yes, that’s right, the kind you see guys wearing in the gym when they are lifting heavy weight. Picking up one or two shovels full of snow isn’t that bad. But it’s the repetitive movement and moving several hundred pounds of snow which can catch up to you. And it’s that repetitive poor form (see tip #5) that will send you straight to the doctor.
  7. Use a snow blower. Especially if you are not in the best of cardiovascular health, or have too much snow to move.
  8. Take a few minutes after you shovel to stretch out and warm up a little. Avoid jumping straight into a hot shower as sudden temper changes can put a strain on your cardiovascular system.

Be safe, but if you do experience back pain you can contact Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute to schedule a consultation at 703-776-4700 or send a message online.

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