Saturday January 14, 2011


Back Talk

Some helpful tips to save yourself some back aches this winter

Released by Assoc. of Chiropractors


anuary is putting on its traditional white coat and whether we like it or not, winter rhymes with snow storm! Here are a few useful tips to make sure you shovel safely this season.


Shovelling is a highly demanding physical activity for your heart and joints and it can cause many injuries. According to Dr. Robert David, spokesperson for the Association des chiropraticiens du Québec, "the amount of patients who see their chiropractor for muscle, joint or nerve injuries increases during the winter months. Yet, many injuries could be avoided if the right shovelling technique were being used."


Extreme temperatures like the ones we experience in Quebec make shovelling an even more difficult task. To avoid injuries, here are a few tips that will help you make the right decisions when the first big snowfalls will show up to your doorstep.


  • Don't let snow pile up. It is preferable to shovel frequently in small quantities than to wait until the storm is over.

  • In order to loosen up your joints and activate your blood circulation, take 5 to 10 minutes to warm up before starting. To do so, walk in place, go up and down the stairs, stretch your torso side to side and stretch your back.

  • Use a lightweight shovel with an ergonomic curved handle. Ideally, your shovel should be made out of plastic or aluminum and designed to push the snow. Its handle should be long enough so that you don't have to bend over to work, though it should not be higher than your shoulders.

  • Push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. If you absolutely need to throw it, lift only the amount you are able to carry and move your feet in the desired direction. Never throw snow over your shoulder height. Flexion-extension and rotating movements cause a lot of tension to your intervertebral disks and ligaments. Lumbar sprains and herniated disks can arise from such movements.

  • Use your leg muscles instead of your back. Don't forget to bend your knees, to always keep your back straight and to keep the shovel close to your body.

  • Don't turn your torso and never throw snow over your shoulder or sideways.

  • Don't always work on the same side; make sure you shovel snow equally your right and left side.

  • Wear many layers of clothing so you can remove some if needed and still be properly dressed to prevent chilblains.

  • Keep a regular rhythm and take frequent breaks, especially if you are shovelling heavy, wet snow.

  • If you feel tired or short of breath, take a break every 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Drink a lot of water. Dehydration occurs as much in the winter as in the summer.

  • Watch out for temperature rises. In cold weather, the physical strain is lower than when the temperature rises. Water concentration in snow increases in weight and risks of injuries become higher. So when spring comes, make sure you take smaller shovels of snow.

  • If you experience pain after shovelling, apply ice on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, rest for a few hours. Be careful when applying heat, it could cause inflammation. During the day, apply ice every two hours. If the pain persists for more than three days, consult a chiropractor near you.

If your spine is not in great shape, the risks of developing more problems when the first snow storm occurs are much higher. Prevent pain! See your chiropractor for a full neuromusculoskeletal system evaluation.


About the ACQ

The Association des chiropraticiens du Québec (ACQ) is a non-profit organisation created in 1966. As part of its public education mission, the ACQ seeks to constantly promote educational projects that enhance public health using natural approaches. With that in mind, we are pleased to offer tips to the citizens of Quebec for a safe and healthy Holiday and winter season.


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