Sage Wellness Blog

Sharing our knowledge and recommendations for a better lifestyle.

Why is Shoveling Such a Pain in the Back!? by Qasim Sadiq DOMP

Who else is feeling a little achy from shoveling all of this snow? I mean, it does make everything pretty, but moving it out of the way sure can be taxing on the back. But, why? If not done properly, it can put undue pressure on back bone discs leading to Disc Herniation And Ruptures! Ouch!

Winter snow storms bring along tons of snow covering your path to home in moments. This year is no exception, and snow shoveling is the only way out!

As a result, the post-shoveling back pain occurs due to a lot twisting, bending, lifting and throwing snow. Why didn’t they teach us how to shovel properly in gym class? It would come in a lot more handy than having the perfect badminton serve right about now!

Surprisingly, studies show that each year thousands of incidents of medical emergencies are reported because of snow shoveling resulting in back injuries. 

What Happens When You Shovel Snow?

Shoveling strains your lower back bone discs increasing the risk of disc herniation or even ruptures (when the jelly inside the disc donut squishes out where it isn’t supposed to, and puts pressure on the nerves right at our spine). Moreover, when you shovel snow for a longer duration repetitively performing the same action, it causes muscle fatigue and discomfort. Rather, it can cause muscle or ligament injuries. 

How to Prevent Back Pain?

Shoveling snow the right way is the first step of prevention. Here a few quick tips to remember and share with your friends and family:

  • Perform simple stretches for lower back to warm up before going out – don’t just hop up after hours at your desk and start shoveling, your muscles need time to warm up first
  • Avoid twisting and keep the back straight when throwing the snow
  • Break up the task and switch between lifting and plowing
  • Bend knees and tilt the hips forward to straighten back
  • Do not lift more than 10-15 pounds of snow at a time
  • Stretch and relax after you are done with the task

On top of it, just know that muscle soreness is unavoidable at the end of a strenuous workout. It’s a sign that those muscles were working, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, by staying active and constantly using those muscles on a regular basis, you can dissipate the discomfort from shoveling by having muscles that are used to regular activity.

How to Best Treat Post-Shoveling Back Pain?

Even after preventative measures, if you are still suffering from back pain—here a few tips and tricks to try:

  1. Take Hot Water Bath With Epsom Salt

A warm bath is always comforting, while adding 2-3 tbsp of Epsom Salt will relieve the sore muscle pain, especially around lower back.

  1. Stretch and Foam Roll

Stretching and yoga can increase blood flow to the sore muscles. With added foam rollers, you can massage targeted muscles and reduce muscle stiffness. Foam rolling helps put pressure on the targeted muscles and boost their elasticity. 

  1. Check With An Osteopath

If the back pain troubles you still, osteopathy is the solution. Osteopathy is a manual therapy that improves joint mobility and eases muscle tension using massage and several ancient techniques to alleviate muscle pain. Osteopathy is a holistic treatment but works wonders in case of back pain relief.

An Insight Into Osteopathy For Back Pain

The art of osteopathy dates back to 1874 when Andrew Taylor Still decided to focus on manual therapy (I wonder if he had to shovel his driveway too?). The theory behind osteopathy is that when cells and tissues work harmoniously, there is zero to minimal pain or illness. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Osteopathy is a popular, all-natural, non-invasive technique to strengthen the musculoskeletal system (our muscles, joints and bones). 

In fact, by targeting your muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and connective tissues, osteopaths work to boost mobility and reduce pain. 

Osteopaths also help with sciatica pain (pain starting in the low back and referring down the back of the leg caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve) using natural techniques of muscle manipulation, counterstrain, myofascial release therapy, and lymphatic pump techniques.

Final Verdict?

Snow-shoveling can be overwhelming for lower back bones and muscles! Not to mention the fact that sometimes the snow just won’t quit falling!  So, you can work to shovel snow without straining your back, and remember to use some of the after-care methods I mentioned to reduce muscle soreness. However, if the pain persists, osteopathy has helped thousands of people in bettering back pain naturally without medications, and your back pain is no exception. Book a treatment for yourself if you need some relief from the snow shoveling blues!

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