It’s snowing…..again…..time to shovel!

snow picOne of the wonderful things about winter, other than drinking tons of hot chocolate, is the snow that falls down! It is a beautiful sight to watch until you begin to remember the snow will require shoveling. Shoveling is done by most folks who have one task in mind. That is to get it done! Back pain unfortunately can be a downside to shoveling all that snow that falls down so easily. By using a few techniques while you shovel, you may prevent your back from saying “Hello” to you later.

It is important that as you shovel, you switch sides you are using to push the snow away. So, try taking 3-4 pushes with the shovel to your right then switch your hand placement and do 3-4 to the left.  This works especially well if you are clearing off a light snow. For heavier snow which will require some lifting of the snow out of the way, alternating sides still is appropriate.  However, remember to bend your knees while lifting the snow and not to twist your body to dispose of the snow in another area. The easiest way to accomplish this is by not loading up your shovel with lots of snow but take smaller scoops that are more manageable.

One final technique that may help prevent some uninvited back pain is to make multiple trips to shovel over the course of the snowfall versus waiting till the last snowflake hits the ground! Now, don your gloves, put on your boots, clear all the snow safely and keep thinking Spring is just around the corner!

For additional information or what to do if back pain does say “Hello” to you after shoveling, contact me, Kelly Slocum, MPT, or any of our physical therapy staff at The Center For Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine at (301) 665-4575.

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Stretching in the New Year!

ImageAs we begin the New Year and look to restart or accelerate our exercise program, stretching and flexibility often take a back seat to our exercise routine. We look at stretching as something to be done if we have a few minutes before starting our weightlifting, walking or running but certainly not the main focus.

Studies looking at stretching as a means of improving athletic performance have mixed results, but I’m convinced based upon my 27 years of Orthopaedic experience that stretching does decrease the risk of athletic and work-related injury. By maintaining a full range of motion through our joints we allow our body parts to work smoothly, effortlessly and efficiently.

As we get older our flexibility decreases due to muscle and tissue aging. Along with that, our reaction time slows increasing our risk of injury and falls. Putting this all together we can see that flexibility programs become even more important as we age. Whether we perform specific stretches or become involved in programs like Yoga or Tai Chi, maintaining flexibility enables us to age gracefully. Although there are certain defined benefits of maintaining muscle strength through exercise, is my opinion that as we age, it is maintenance of flexibility that helps the most in preventing injury The additional benefit of flexibility programs is that they also provide the opportunity for mental focus.

A few minutes spent with a daily flexibility program can return years of improved health and mobility. Flexibility exercises don’t require expensive equipment, travel to a gym or fancy gym clothes. They can be done in the privacy of your own home in just a few minutes. Take charge of your life and get those joints moving!

If you’d like to have a copy of a recommended flexibility program, contact me at DrRalph@thedoctorsin.net

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Do you have a sports injury? Would you like to be seen by one of our doctors? Call our office in Hagerstown, Maryland at 301-665-4575 or visit our website at hipknee.com to request an appointment!