Back Pain

5 Tips To Avoid Pain After Shoveling

5 Tips To Avoid Pain After Shoveling

Anyone who’s from Michigan can relate – you wake up in the morning and look out the window expecting to see green grass but instead you’re greeted with 6 inches of snow. It looks pretty from inside, the first snow of the season always does. Then you realize you’ve got an entire driveway to shovel before heading off for work. Ugh…is it spring yet?

Oftentimes we don’t realize the effort that it takes to push snow. We’re focused on getting it out of the way but the next day the pain and soreness kicks in. Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain, especially to the lower back and shoulders. We’ve put together some tips and stretches to help you avoid pain after shoveling.

Tips to avoid injury and pain after shoveling

  • Lift smaller loads of snow.
  • Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and lift with your legs rather than your back.
  • Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier.
  • Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting, as excessive twisting puts pressure on the spine.
  • Take frequent breaks, stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.

Stretches and exercises to avoid pain after shoveling

Getting ready to head out and tackle the sidewalks? Here are a few stretches and exercises you can do to avoid pain after shoveling.

5 Tips To Avoid Pain After Shoveling

Physical Therapist, Julie Blodgett, shows Frosty the proper way to stretch your low back to avoid pain after shoveling.

● Low back: Stand up straight, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.

● Hamstrings: While holding onto something for support, straighten your leg out and place your heel up on a chair, tighten your thigh, and pull your toes towards your body. Feel the stretch in the back of your leg. There’s no need to bend forward and it’s better if you don’t. Just stand up tall and keep both legs active. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

● Quads: Holding onto something for support, stand up straight and bend one leg, grabbing your foot up near your buttocks. You should feel this stretch in the front of the thigh of the bent leg as you hold for 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Core: While standing, imagine pulling your belly button in towards your spine and engage your abdominal muscles without letting your pelvis tuck under. Hold for 5-10 seconds while breathing normally and repeat a few times. This exercise uses the innermost layer of abdominal and back muscles.

● Mindfulness: As you’re shoveling, focus on the rotating movements happening in your hip joints. Place your finger on the front of your hip joints (located at the top of each thigh near the groin) and practice a few sways side to side, simulating raking. Avoid letting the rotation happen at your waist—this will cause unnecessary movement around your lumbar spine.

 

If you’re experiencing pain after shoveling snow or you have complaints of back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain, schedule a free consultation with one of our physical therapists. We can work together on a few stretches and exercises specifically for the areas where you feel pain.

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5 Tips To Avoid Pain After Shoveling

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having poor posture…I’m right there with you. In fact, poor posture habits are something that most of us are guilty of from time to time. Have you ever really stopped to consider the consequences your body suffers as a result? Now that we so often have a smartphone or tablet in our hands, we spend even more time in a hunched position. These postures can have detrimental effects on our spine and the surrounding joints and soft tissues.

When you look at the spine from the side, you’ll see that it’s not straight up and down, it has several curves that create an “S” shape, which is important for absorbing the stress placed on our bodies. When we lose those normal curves due to continued poor posture, it can cause pain. The lower back and the neck have a normal backward curve and the upper back has a forward curve. Postural dysfunction occurs when the normal curves increase or decrease, leading to pain in and around your spine.

A common postural issue we often see in physical therapy is a forward head posture. A forward head posture is seen when the earlobe sits in front of the tip of the shoulder, causing an increased curve in your upper back. Over time, these poor postures can cause the following problems that often lead patients to seek physical therapy:

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You1. Headaches
When you lose the normal backward curve of your neck, and your cervical spine straightens or begins to curve forward, ultimately placing stress on the muscles, leading to headaches. Additionally, the nerves and joints in the upper neck can be compressed, causing pain in the neck and into the head as well.

2. Shoulder impingement
When the forward curve of your upper back increases, your shoulder blades sit more forward and higher on your back. When raising your arms overhead, your shoulder blade rotates a certain way to allow full shoulder motion. When the position of your shoulder blade changes, this rotation can decrease and you are now at an increased risk of pinching the tendons in your shoulder when you raise your arm overhead. This is called shoulder impingement and it can lead to pain and the break down of these tendons, increasing your chance of tendon tears.

3. Jaw pain
Pain in and around the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is common with forward head posture due to abnormal stress placed on the mandible (lower jaw bone) and the soft tissues around your TMJ. If you compensate for the loss of your cervical curve with head extension, the muscles that open your mouth are stretched and your mouth will rest in an open position. In order to keep your mouth closed at rest, the muscles that close your mouth will work extra hard which can cause pain in the cheeks, head, and jaw. Additionally, increased stress on the soft tissues around the TMJ can cause pain and clicking or popping.

Five Ways Your Posture is Hurting You4. Neck pain
Loss of the cervical curve will place increased tension on the ligaments along the back of the neck. This increased tension can lead to the formation of bone spurs where these ligaments attach, as well as an increased chance of tears in your discs, leading to herniated discs. Bone spurs and herniated discs can affect the nerves that run from your spinal cord in your neck to your arms, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

5. Respiratory dysfunction
In order to take a nice deep breath, the lungs need room to expand. When your posture is hunched forward, your ribs have less ability to move and expand, causing more shallow breathing patterns and excessive use of the accessory breathing muscles in your neck. This type of breathing pattern can further contribute to neck pain and have serious effects for people with underlying respiratory disorders.

We’re here to help
The good news? Physical therapy can help reverse all these issues. We’re trained in manual therapy techniques to stretch and mobilize your tight soft tissues and joints and we can show you exercises designed to strengthen your weak muscles to improve your overall posture and movement. To request an appointment for a free consultation, click here!

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Congratulations to Our New Mulligan Practitioners

Congratulations to Our New Mulligan Practitioners

We’d like to take a moment to toot our own horn and call attention to a few members of our physical therapy team who recently became Certified Mulligan Practitioners. For those not familiar with the term, the Mulligan Concept is a specific form of physical therapy that involves using manual therapy techniques that decrease pain and increase range of motion.

These team members worked so hard and are ready to start showing you the benefits of the Mulligan Concept: Diana Painter, Matt Casterline, David DeHaan, Terri Jeurink, Denise Jongekrijg, Corey Kuipers, Dave Sefton, and Ashley VandenBerg. Our seven new practitioners join Janis Kemper, Gina Otterbein, and Lisa Otterbein-Bolek, who were previously certified.

Congratulations to Our New Mulligan Practitioners

Ashley (left) and David (right) practice using the Mulligan concept on other physical therapists during the continuing education course.

Congratulations to Our New Mulligan Practitioners

While the course was definitely educational, Matt made sure it was entertaining, too.

In order to get fully certified, our therapists had to complete three clinical courses over the course of two years that focused on the upper quadrant, lower quadrant, and an advanced course. The clinic courses were followed by a written test and practical course. What made this process even more exciting is that we had the opportunity to host these continuing education courses at our Wayland clinic. They were open to any physical therapist who had previously met certain requirements and were ready to fine tune their skill level with the Mulligan approach to manual therapy for the whole body.

Congratulations to Our New Mulligan PractitionersThe Mulligan course took place at our Wayland physical therapy clinic.

So how exactly does the Mulligan Concept work?
The ultimate goal behind the Mulligan technique is to get you to a point where you can move more with less pain by manipulating the muscles and joints a certain way. When your pain goes away it’s a clear sign that the technique is working, if pain persists then the technique gets altered a bit.

Commonly treated conditions include:

  • back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain
  • Non-inflammatory pain
  • Acute pain from an injury
  • Rehab following a surgery
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Jaw or TMJ pain and movement restrictions
  • “Tennis elbow” or lateral elbow pain
  • Ankle sprains

Congratulations to Our New Mulligan PractitionersWhile Brian Mulligan, the founder of the Mulligan Concept, was not at the Northern-hosted event, a few team members did have the chance to meet him at a conference.

To learn more about the Mulligan Concept and whether it would be a good fit for you, click here.

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Congratulations to Our New Mulligan Practitioners