APM Blog

Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:25

Shoveling Safety Tips to Prevent Pain

As the winter weather comes to the Midwest, keep these simple snow safety tips in mind as your grab your shovel! Being smart before you get to work outside can help prevent back pain and neck pain in the future.

1. Warm up – Shoveling uses many muscles in your body – arms, shoulders, legs, and upper and lower back. Warming up with a few gentle stretching exercises and a short walk around the block before you even pickup the shovel could save you pain tomorrow. Start with some simple back pain stretches.


2. Use proper tools – A shovel that is the appropriate height and weight will help reduce the need to hunch over when shoveling. Before buying snow equipment, test it out in the store to see how it feels, and make sure it is the proper size for you and the type of work that will be done.

3. Lifts with your legs, don’t twist or hunch – When shoveling, try to avoid lifting a full shovel of snow using your back muscles. Instead, bend your knees and lift with your legs, keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bend and your feet hip-width apart. In addition, you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, turn your whole body.

4. Switch sides while shoveling – Like dribbling a basketball, people tend to favor one hand or side of their body when they’re shoveling. To avoid using the same muscles to do the same movement repetitively, try switching sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.

5. Pace yourself and know your limits– Ease into winter clean up and take regular breaks every 15-20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and enjoy some hot chocolate. These frequent breaks will give you time to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the winter weather.

6. Exercise year-round – People who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.

Published in Snow-shoveling

“Don’t let winter stop you from gardening and enjoying your landscape,” says expert horticulturalist Melinda Myers. And don’t let pain stop you, either! Download APM’s new Weed out the Pain: Winter Home and Garden Edition for tips and ideas on maintaining your plants and your health during these cold winter months, as well as ideas on exciting pain-fighting recipes and crafts.

Brave the Outdoors

Winter is a difficult time in the Midwest, since the cold weather often keeps us indoors – and away from our gardens. It’s also a hard time for people with pain, since the frigid temperatures and difficult winter chores can often increase pain. But winter doesn’t have to mean the end of your hobbies – even gardening – and, if done right, your outdoor chores don’t have to be a source of pain. Melinda’s advice on winterizing your landscape, paired with expert injury prevention advice from pain management providers, can help you enjoy winter and reduce your pain in the process.

For instance, Melinda recommends that after it snows, people should shovel first, then use a plant-friendly deicing salt. This way, you use less salt, making it better for your budget and your landscape. And while shoveling, switch sides often in order to avoid muscle fatigue or strain. It’s better for your back and means less chance of injury.

Staying Inside

But you don’t even have to go outside to experience the benefits of gardening. “Whether it’s the plants you brought in for winter, a new houseplant or greens on a windowsill, gardening helps reduce stress and elevate our mood,” says Melinda.

Melinda suggests growing an array of microgreens as an easy and nutritious gardening project this winter. Radish, mustard and spicy microgreens can give a spicy zip to your meals, and sunflower and popcorn microgreens have a delectable nutty flavor. 

Speaking of delectable meals, winter’s the perfect time to stock up your pantry with foods that fight pain – like cherries, ginger and peppers – and add them to a warm slow-cooked meal. The winter toolkit provides nine unique, tasty dishes to curb your hunger and decrease your pain, like this slow cooker creamy chicken and mint curry from Food 52. The refreshing addition of mint can actually help reduce inflammation and decrease headaches and general aches and pains.

After you’ve eaten, try your hand at some of the exciting winter- and nature-themed crafts in the toolkit, which not only help you brighten your home during the dull winter months, but can also help you fight pain.

Learn More

To get these expert tips from Melinda and APM’s pain management professionals, in addition to an array of pain-fighting recipes and winter crafts – download the Weed out the Pain: Winter Home and Garden Edition now!

Published in Gardening

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