We commonly see a condition called “Snow Shovel Back” routinely after the season’s first snow fall resulting in pain and disability. This condition commonly occurs shortly after someone has shoveled snow, usually in the morning hours. Within hours, the back muscles tighten to the point where the individual cannot stand up straight and typically has a lean to the side. This condition can last for days or weeks depending on the individuals lifestyle.
This common condition is not actually a back condition but something I call a lifestyle condition. The following are some of the “lifestyle symptoms” that accompany this condition.
1. Sedentary occupation requiring 6-8hrs/day sitting
2. Driving greater than 30 min. to and from work daily
3. Waist greater than 36″ for men and 30″ for women
4. Exercise less than 2x per month
5. Consumes Non – Grass Fed Red Meat greater than 2X per week
6. High grain diet
These criteria represent the typical American lifestyle and result in chronic inflammation and deconditioning of the muscles that support the back. The human back was designed to be able to bend forward and extend back up without “going-out” however with the accompanying lifestyle; the muscles cannot handle the demand. There are a few exceptions to these “symptoms” such as prior disc injury, degenerative disease of the spine, and instability conditions but these are rare. The real problem is our current lifestyle.
I recommend the following to avoid “Snow Shovel Back”
1. Not sitting longer than 30 minutes without standing and moving around for a few minutes. Sitting on a stability ball for a portion of your day to engage your core muscle while you sit is a great idea.
2. Drinking 10oz. of water before you shovel the snow. This will hydrate your vertebral discs and your muscles.
3. Regular daily exercise consisting of stretching and resistive strength training for 45 min.
4. Reducing grain fed red meat consumption to less than 1X per week and substitute with grass fed red meat, fish, vegetables, and salads.
5. Limit alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks per week and stop smoking
6. Always lifting with proper technique of keeping the back straight and bending from the knees. Using an ergonomic shovel can also help.
7. Visit your Chiropractor.
These tips will help you enjoy the winter months and keep someone from carrying you into my office. They will also reduce the amount of inflammation your body has which will reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and arthritis. If you have any further questions, you may visit our website at http://www.fccofbayonne.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.