Q: A few years ago I slipped on the ice and injured my back. I know I have to keep the porch steps cleared of snow and ice, but I am afraid I will hurt my back shoveling the snow. Which is worse?
A: You are wise to keep the snow and ice cleared from your steps. This is not only out of concern for your own safety but for the safety of every visitor or delivery person to your home which could be a liability issue for you. It is true that snow shoveling can cause muscle strain to your back and shoulders. Follow these simple tips to avoid injury.
Lift smaller loads of snow. Take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than with you back.
When you dump the snow, avoid twisting the waist. Turn your hips and shoulders as a unit to decrease strain on your muscles.
If possible, wait until afternoon to shovel. Many disc injuries occur in the morning when there is increased fluid in the disc.
Q: I am 80 years old and afraid of falling or hurting my back while shoveling snow. I know it is important to keep the area clear. What should I do?
A: If you are unable to keep the area clean, contact a neighbor, friend or family member to ask for help. If that is not possible, contact a local civic or church group to see if they have youth looking to earn community service hours to address the task of keeping the steps cleaned up.
Q: I currently am experiencing low back pain. What do you suggest I do?
A: Stay active and do as much of your normal routine as possible. (Bed rest for longer than a day can actually slow down your recovery.) If your pain lasts for more than a few days or gets worse, schedule an appointment to see your physical therapist.
Not all low-back pain is the same, so your treatment should be tailored for your specific symptoms and condition. Once the examination is complete, your physical therapist will evaluate the results, identify the factors that have contributed to your specific back problem and design an individualized treatment plan for your specific back problem. Treatments may include:
Manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, to improve the mobility of joints and soft tissues
Specific strengthening and flexibility exercises
Education about how you can take better care of your back
Training for proper lifting, bending and sitting; for doing chores both at work and in the home; and for proper sleeping positions
Assistance in creating a safe and effective physical-activity program to improve your overall health
Use of ice or heat treatments or electrical stimulation to help relieve pain.
Reference: moveforwardpt.com - American Physical Therapy Association