|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
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
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
Don't let the snow pile up. Removing small amounts of
snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long
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
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.