Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ouchless snow shoveling

It's snowing in some places so here comes the usual story on how to shovel without ruining your back.

Snow is heavy--it looks light--but isn't.

Kaliq Chang, MD, of the Atlantic Spine Center, says the white stuff landed 28,000 people in the ER in 2014.

Back strain!

Some tips for avoiding:

--Warm up. Light stretching or calesthenics.

--Shovel, scrape, repeat. Don;'t let it pile up--during a storm, clear the snow periodically.

--Right equipment.  A bent-handled, ergonomically correct shovel takes stress off your back. Make sure the shovel fits your height and strength.

--No throwing. Do not toss the snow over your shoulder.

--Push, don't lift.. If you must lift, use your legs.

--Wear proper boots. You can also injure your back from falling. Boot up!

What if you do this wrong, and your back gets sore?

--Rest. A few days can do the trick. But inactivity can also make things worse.

--Ice or heat. Either can increase blood flow.

--Medication. Ibuprofen or naproxen can reduce inflammation. Be sure these don't interact with other meds.

--In extreme cases, steriod injections can be given into the muscles or minimally invasive spine surgery may be indicated.

My advice--Go slow on the latter--and get a kid to shovel for you. But you know how I am.

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