Shovel That Snow, but Spare Your Back

Shovel That Snow, but Spare Your Back

SATURDAY, Feb. 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Almost everyone gets stuck shoveling snow at some point during the winter. To prevent back pain and strain, one spinal expert has some advice.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Srinivasu Kusuma, from the University of Chicago Medicine Medical Group, noted it’s all in the precautions you take before you tackle your snow-covered driveway.

  • Decide if it’s safe to shovel. If you already have back issues and don’t exercise often, or if you are prone to lightheadedness or shortness of breath, maybe you shouldn’t be shoveling. Instead, consider using a snowblower. For those with heart problems or chest pains during exercise, Kusuma urges they check with their doctor about shoveling.
  • Warm up your muscles. “Make sure to warm up before you shovel, just as you would before a workout,” Kusuma said in a university news release. Stretching and strolling can warm up your muscles. If you’re going to shovel bright and early, make sure your muscles are loose before shoveling. Don’t have time to stretch out in the a.m.? You might want to shovel in the evening then.
  • Appropriate winter gear is important. A coat, pants, hat and gloves will keep you warm in frigid weather. Wearing waterproof boots can also give you traction and prevent slips and falls, Kusuma said. Use a lightweight shovel with an adjustable handle.
  • Use proper technique. Push the snow to the side instead of picking it up. If you need to lift the snow, don’t fill the shovel more than halfway. “Bend with your knees and not your back, using your powerful leg muscles instead of core muscles,” Kusuma said. Always keep your shoulders and hips square with the shovel and avoid twisting at the waist.
  • Take your time. “People are usually in a rush to get to work or to get out the door,” Kusuma said. “I see injuries like strains, sprains and herniated disks when people try to do too much too fast.” Stretch your arms and legs every 10 to 15 minutes to stay limber. “You’re less likely to [get] hurt if you plan ahead and take breaks so your muscles stay flexible,” he noted.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on safe shoveling.

SOURCE: University of Chicago Medical Center, news release, January 2020

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Health Tip: Signs of a Herniated Disc

Health Tip: Signs of a Herniated Disc

(HealthDay News) — The bones that form your spine are cushioned by round discs. A herniated disc is a disc that has been pushed out of place, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The group mentions warning signs of a herniated disc:

  • Low backache.
  • Numbness or weakness in parts of the body.
  • A sharp, electric shock-like pain on one side of the body.
  • Burning or tingling that radiates into the leg or shoulder.

Sometimes, these symptoms can worsen with standing, walking or sitting.

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Health Tip: The ‘Wall Test’ For Good Posture

Health Tip: The ‘Wall Test’ For Good Posture

(HealthDay News) — Proper posture can prevent pain and injury, says Mayo Clinic. To check if you have proper posture, Mayo suggests the “wall test.”

Here’s what it involves:

  1. Stand so the back of your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touch the wall. Your heels should be 2 to 4 inches apart.
  2. Place a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to slide your hand between your lower back and the wall.
  3. If there’s too much space behind your lower back, draw your belly button toward your spine.
  4. If there’s too little space behind your lower back, arch your back so your hand can slide behind you.
  5. Walk away from the wall while holding proper posture. Return to the wall to check whether you kept the correct posture.
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‘Smartphone Slouching’ More Serious Than It Sounds

‘Smartphone Slouching’ More Serious Than It Sounds

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The health risks that spring from poor posture while using mobile devices don’t concern many Americans, a new survey finds.

But maybe it should.

Poor posture can lead to health issues such as chronic pain in the back, neck and knees, circulation problems, heartburn and digestive problems, according to researchers from the Orlando Health system in Florida.

American adults spend an average more than 3.5 hours on their smartphones every day, meaning they may be looking down or slouching for long periods of time, they noted.

Their national survey, published Oct. 9, asked respondents their level of concern about eye strain, carpal tunnel and other potential health consequences of mobile device use. Only 47% said they were concerned about poor posture and how it affected their health.

“It’s not just when you’re scrolling on your phone, but any time you put your body in a less-than-optimal position, whether that’s reading a book, working at a desk or lounging on the couch,” said Nathaniel Melendez, an exercise physiologist at Orlando Health’s National Training Center in Clermont, Fla.

“People don’t realize the strain they’re putting on their body when it is not aligned correctly, or just how far corrective exercises and daily adjustments can go toward improving pain and postural issues,” he added in a health system news release.

“I see a lot of people compensating for poor posture with short steps, rounded shoulders, walking with their head and neck down,” Melendez said.

Even slight misalignment can put a lot of strain on the body. For every inch your head moves in front of your body, 10 pounds of pressure is added to your shoulders, he said.

“If, for example, your head is 4 inches in front of your body when you’re looking down at your phone, that’s like having a child sitting on your shoulders that whole time,” Melendez noted.

Most problems caused by poor posture are reversible with some simple changes.

“Just doing strength training will not help your posture or the pain it’s causing,” Melendez said. “I work with people specifically on strengthening their core and doing some corrective postural exercises. We also do a lot of functional training exercises, which mimic daily life.”

People who work at a desk or spend a lot of time sitting should raise their screens to eye height, sit with both feet on the floor, and take frequent breaks to get up and move around, Melendez advised.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on posture.

SOURCE: Orlando Health, news release, Oct. 9, 2019

Copyright ©2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

(HealthDay News) — A herniated disc is a spinal injury that can be caused by excessive strain, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Symptoms of a herniated disc can range from a soft back ache to extreme pain or numbness.

After diagnosis, doctors usually recommend that patients maintain a low, painless activity level for a few days or weeks.

For mild-to-moderate pain, patients can use anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Physical therapy may entail ice and heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation and stretching exercises.

For a herniated diss that causes severe pain, a doctor may recommend surgery.

Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

(HealthDay News) — Lifting heavy things is a leading cause of workplace injury, says the University of North Carolina.

People who practice smart lifting techniques are less likely to suffer muscle sprains, pulls and injuries caused by heavy lifting.

To properly lift a heavy item, the school recommends:

  • Prepare for the load. Think about if you are suited for the job.
  • Get as close to the load as possible.
  • Keep your back straight and bend at the knees.
  • Get a good handhold, and do not twist while lifting.
  • While carrying, move your feet to turn.
  • To put the load down, bend at the knees.
Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
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