Digging out this winter
We've had our fair share of snow already this winter. Here in Chicago, as of mid-January, we have already accumulated enough snow to be considered in the midst of the third snowiest winter since records began. With all of this snow comes a lot of shoveling. According to a study by MensHealth, 57% of shoveling injuries affect the back with over 50% of those being muscle sprains. These types of injuries are the easiest injuries to prevent. You've heard it once and you'll hear it many times over, lift with your legs, not with your back. You hear this not only during winter but also when moving and lifting heavy objects. But what does that really mean?
Lift with your legs, not with your back
Lifting with your legs helps to prevent added stress on your back. Your back is composed of many layers of muscles, some big and medium sized muscles and a lot of small ones. These small muscles are designed to help prevent injury to the back and they do an exceptional job day in and day out. When they're required to do more work than they can handle, that's when injury occurs. A sprain is a tear in the fibers of a muscle. A sprain, if left untreated will eventual heal itself but will also leave you at risk for injury to reoccur. In order to avoid an injury in the first place, you should try to keep your back as flat as possible. This will not only utilize your core muscles but it will turn your waist and hips into a hinge. You should start the motion with bent legs and as you collect an amount of snow that's not too heavy, you should hinge your body into a more upright position and extend you legs. Place the snow in your snow pile, do not throw it. There are many different options of shovels available to help make digging out a little bit easier. Companies have started making shovels more ergonomically friendly by adding curves in the shaft of the shovel so you don't have to bend over as much. Another class of shovels mimic the action of a snow plow which allows you to simply push the snow rather than lift it. They have even started making shovels that act as giant levers to help alleviate the lifting portion of shoveling. Figure out which one works best for you but remember to lift with your legs and not with your back. If you have already learned this lesson the hard way, give us a call, we will help you get back in shape just in time for the next 12 inches!