Well­ness Arti­cles

Cana­dian Poll Says Snow Shov­el­ing Num­ber One Cause of Win­ter Back Pain

A new poll from Canada points to snow shov­el­ing as the lead­ing cause of back and neck pain dur­ing the win­ter months. In the poll, 73 per cent of Ontario chi­ro­prac­tors sur­veyed say improper shov­el­ing tech­nique tops the list of rea­sons for win­ter back pain problems.

The story, reported in the Jan­u­ary 9, 2003 Cana­dian News Wire, Quotes Dr. Den­nis Mizel, Pres­i­dent of the Ontario Chi­ro­prac­tic Asso­ci­a­tion, who said, “Chi­ro­prac­tors are find­ing that some patients expe­ri­ence back and neck pain as a result of improper snow shov­el­ing tech­nique. Improper tech­nique can be any­thing from bend­ing at the waist instead of the knees to throw­ing snow instead of push­ing it. When you com­bine improper tech­nique with the aver­age weight of one shov­el­ful of snow (five to seven pounds) it becomes even more evi­dent that this is a seri­ous prob­lem for both adults and the chil­dren who help them.”

Dr. Kristina Peter­son, a chi­ro­prac­tor in Thun­der Bay was also quoted in the arti­cle, “Back prob­lems can sur­face in patients dur­ing the win­ter, espe­cially those who are unac­cus­tomed to par­tic­i­pat­ing in chal­leng­ing phys­i­cal activ­ity on a reg­u­lar basis. Activ­i­ties requir­ing exer­tion that is higher than one’s daily rou­tine such as win­ter sports or push­ing stuck cars can cause back injuries. How­ever, snow shov­el­ing is the num­ber one rea­son patients present with back pain in the winter.”

The Ontario Chi­ro­prac­tic Asso­ci­a­tion offers the fol­low­ing pre­ven­tive mea­sures to help keep backs in shape:

  • Warm-​up. Before begin­ning any snow removal, warm-​up for five to ten min­utes to get the joints mov­ing and increase blood cir­cu­la­tion. A good warm-​up should include stretches for the back, shoul­ders, arms and legs. This will ensure that your body is ready for action.
  • Don’t let the snow pile up. Remov­ing small amounts of snow on a fre­quent basis is less stren­u­ous in the long run.
  • Pick the right shovel. Use a light­weight push-​style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow won’t stick.
  • Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throw­ing it as much as pos­si­ble. If you have to throw, avoid twist­ing and turn­ing — posi­tion your­self to throw straight at the snow pile.
  • Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm mus­cles to do the push­ing and lift­ing while keep­ing your back straight.
  • Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Stop shov­el­ing imme­di­ately if you feel chest or back pain.
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