It is winter in Concord MA and we are running almost 2 feet above normal snow level! This leads to a lot of time spent doing one of the worst things possible for your low back: shoveling.
The absolute worst position you could put your spine in occurs when you shovel. Bending forward at the waist, while also bending to the side is a perfect storm for disaster. When you bend forward a majority of the weight in your spine is placed on the front half of the disc. When you add a side bend into that, the weight is now on 25% of the disc. Add in the fact that you are throwing some weight (snow) your back will eventually end up hurting.
What you do next is very important in how this is going to end up. Swallow some painkillers and keep going? You may be setting yourself up for some serious pain down the road. If the pain is telling you to stop, you should listen. Ignoring this may lead you to a much more serious problem than just muscle soreness. The last thing anyone needs is to herniate a disc while rushing to get their driveway cleared.
If you must shovel, please keep these important points in mind:
- Properly warm up your legs, back and shoulders through stretching
- Shovel with your knees bent, making sure to use your legs whenever possible
- Start with a light amount of snow
- Drink plenty of water, even in the cold you will sweat
- Take frequent breaks
While we are oftentimes in a rush to get the work done, taking frequent breaks will give your body the best chance to handle this difficult task.