Shoveling snow is one of New England’s facts of life. As a chiropractor, I get to not only do my share of shoveling; I also get to fix you after you shovel. In my 20 years here, I have learned the keys to successful snow management. I considered writing a book entitled “A Chiropractor’s Snow Shoveling Secrets to a Better Back” but instead, I’ll just tell you.
The first item to consider is whether someone else could do it for you. That is the ultimate back protecting strategy. (In the book, I would have saved that for the end). If that is not an option or, if you prefer shoveling, several tricks will improve your outcome. Now, when I speak about outcome, I do not refer to the quality of your shoveling achievements but to the way you feel and function the next day.
Tip #1: Your power comes from the center of your body. Strengthen your core in advance. It will increase your output, stamina and have a powerful protective effect. Then focus on your core while moving the snow.
Tip #2: Switch sides. As you move snow around, use the shovel on one side then the other. It might feel awkward in the beginning but you will be using your body more evenly and it will make you smarter. Yes, smarter. Every time you do something differently, you build new neural pathways that are linked to intelligence and memory. (This would be the book’s subtitle: Shovel Your Way to a Higher IQ). It’s called neuroplasticity.
Tip#3: Depending on how wet or dry, limit the amount you lift with each shovelful. With heavy snow, a 2 or 3 inches thick layer is as heavy as you want to lift.
Tip #4: Get adjusted regularly. I cannot overstress the immense protective power of regular adjustments.
After all this advice, if you still have pain following your snow encounter, please call and come right away. Waiting to see if it will go away just does not work. By the time you feel discomfort beyond fatigue, inflammation and joints dysfunction are present. These are components of subluxations that include nerve disruption. Short or long term problems are the inevitable consequence of subluxations. The ONLY solution is an adjustment. Maybe that book would have landed me on Oprah? It would certainly have been useful. See you soon for your next adjustment.