Snow Shoveling Tips to Prevent Back Pain

Avoiding Back Pain When Snow ShovelingWhether it’s frigid temperatures, freezing rain or blizzards, January and February are always the toughest in New Jersey. This time of year one of the more common causes of back pain we see from patients is from snow shoveling. Thankfully, injuries can be prevented by learning the proper ways to remove snow without straining the back. Our emergency medicine physicians have put together a few tips below on how to avoid back pain and injuries while removing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks starting with a proper warm up.

Common Winter Back Pain and Injuries

Injuries associated with a severe winter likely can be numerous. Some common injuries include overworked low back, leg and arm muscles, orthopedic injuries and possible fractures from falling (broken arms, elbows, wrists, ankles, hips), muscle, ligament, tendon injuries and even heart-related problems. Prevention is the key to these injuries.

Cold Temperatures, Cold Muscles

That’s right. Shoveling snow is a rigorous and strenuous workout and you need to engage in a warm up before you begin. Cold muscles that tighten up are constricted and have limited mobility that can lead to injury. Increasing muscle temperature helps to loosen muscles for injury-preventing mobility and flexibility. A proper warm up also helps to ease your muscles into the movement so they can achieve their full range of motion safely.

Warm Up and Stretch

Get your blood flowing for 5 to 10 minutes with a few body weight exercises such as jumping jacks, arm circles, push-ups or the basic squat. Start slowly and gradually pick up speed as you build up heat.

After your warm up, engage in a few stretches to loosen up the muscles. Torso rotation, cat/cow and hamstring stretches are great to help prevent low back pain.

Shovel Correctly

Choose an ergonomic snow shovel with a curved handle or adjustable handle length to help decrease the amount of bending required for each scoop. When possible, try to push the snow to one side rather than lifting it each time. Take smaller, more frequent loads – it may take a little longer, but picking up less snow with each scoop puts less strain on your spine and muscles.

Avoid bending over as much as possible by using your legs to lift the shovel from a semi-squat position instead. Particularly if you suffer from back pain, it’s important to use the strength from your legs to lessen the load your low back has to take.

Forward Bend Stretch for Low Back Pain: Give it a Try!

As you start shoveling outside and feel your lower back tighten up, listen to your body and slow down or stop. Try this forward bend stretch with your shovel to alleviate some tension:

  • Hold the shovel handle in front of you with both hands with the shovel blade on the ground.
  • Walk your feet back, lower your chest, and stop once your feet are directly under your hips.
  • Relax your head down and pull your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Stretch here for at about 30 seconds, breathing deeply and allowing your lower back to feel a release.

When To See Your Doctor

Snow shoveling can be safe and injury-free (with the bonus of burning a few calories) if you prepare your muscles ahead of time and engage in a proper shoveling technique. But accidents can happen. If you or a loved one experiences back pain or an injury from shoveling, visit eMedical Urgent Care walk-in clinic. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Winter is beautiful. Take a few moments to enjoy it and be safe as you clear your driveway!

Getting Medical Care While On Vacation

Medical Care On VacationVacations are supposed to be a relaxing time spent away from the daily stressors so you can enjoy more fun-filled time with your family and friends. However, there are times when illnesses or accidents occur that can bring the focus away from your trip to the Jersey shore to finding the appropriate medical care. If you are visiting from out of state or perhaps you are hosting friends or family from out out-of-town, rest assured that if someone gets injured or becomes ill, they will be provided with great doctors and great care at eMedical Urgent Care.

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Whether your child has a sore throat on your trip to Point Pleasant or you are thrown by a wave and injure your ankle while paddle boarding on the Navesink River, it’s important to seek the necessary medical care you need when you need it. You don’t need to wait days (or weeks) to see your hometown doctor when you can be seen by our emergency medicine physicians right away. We provide great care seven days a week without the long waits and expenses. Even on weekends, evenings and holidays we‘re here; our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. We pledge that, on average, you’ll be seen by one of our professional providers within 30 minutes.Visiting eMedical Urgent Care allows you to been seen by a doctor quickly who will assess your condition so you can be on the road to recovery…and get back to the beach.

Save Money on Quality Care

Emergency room visits can be very expensive. This can become even more pricy if you go to a hospital’s ER when on vacation because many insurance plans have steep charges for out-of-network coverage of treatment for injuries or illness. Choosing eMedical urgent care instead of going to the emergency room can save you the shock of an outrageously high bill when you get home. As your Middletown and Berkeley Heights urgent care facility, eMedical helps you get the medical care you need without worrying about costs. We work with a number of health insurance providers; call to confirm coverage of your visit and learn more about the services we offer.
As an affordable option for the uninsured, we also offer a discount eCard program.

Enjoy Your New Jersey Vacation

Getting ill or injured while on vacation or even traveling on business can be frustrating. Rather than waiting for hours in an emergency room, you can ensure that you and your loved ones will receive the treatment that’s needed, when it’s needed. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Feel better knowing we’re here.

Top Tips for Safety in the Snow

Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP children-ski-safety

Do you want to build a snowman? Or ride snowmobiles around the yard? If so, safety is key. Regardless of age or developmental levels, winter sports are fun for the whole family. However, it is important to stay safe to ensure a full season of outdoor activities – otherwise, you and your child may be stuck indoors while everyone else is outside enjoying the fun!

Tips to Prepare for Outdoor Activities:

  • Dress warm: Several layers will keep children dry and warm. Don’t forget boots, gloves, mittens and a hat. As a general rule, dress infants and young children in one layer more than you would wear in similar weather conditions.
  • Apply sunblock: When you’re skiing, sledding, skating or snowboarding, sunlight reflects off of snow and ice, and your child can get sunburned quickly. Make sure to wear a lip balm with SPF as well.

For any outdoor activity, parents should set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up and change into dry clothing before going back out to play. For parents of young adults and teens, it’s critical to remind them that using alcohol or drugs before any winter activity, like snowmobiling or skiing, is dangerous and unacceptable.

Ice Skating Safety

Have you ever noticed penguins don’t slip and fall on ice? It’s because they walk flat footed, take short steps, walk with their arms at their sides and concentrate on maintaining balance. This winter, walk like a penguin and help stop winter falls.

Ice skating should only occur on approved surfaces. In places where it gets very cold, you may be able to skate outdoors on frozen ponds and lakes. These spots must be approved for skating because ice that looks strong may not be able to hold your or your child’s weight.

  • Children should always skate in the same direction as the crowd.
  • Avoid chewing gum or eating candy while skating to prevent choking.
  • Consider wearing a helmet and protective elbow, wrist and knee pads, especially while learning to skate.

Sledding Safety

Sledding; the most enjoyed activity of those enjoying a snow day from school. Before rushing up that big hill, make sure your child is using a sled that is sturdy and that they can steer. The seat of the sled should be padded. Never use homemade sleds like trash can lids, plastic bags or pool floats. A recent study looked at how fast children and adults went while sledding – and the average was 19 miles per hour!

It is important to make sure children who are sledding are always going down the hill feet first to prevent head trauma. Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees, buildings or fences, should be covered in snow and not ice, should not be too steep, and should end with a flat runoff.  Helmet use should be encouraged as well.

Skiing and Snowboarding Safety

Before your child hits the slopes, make sure he or she has the right equipment that fits properly to prevent injury. This includes boots, helmets, gloves and goggles. Snowboarders should wear knee and elbow pads too.

  • Have your child take at least one skiing or snowboarding lesson before starting out on his own.
  • Make sure the trail or hill is appropriate for your child’s level of comfort and skill.
  • Avoid crowded slopes and slopes with obstacles such as trees whenever possible.

Recently, snowmobiling has become very popular. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children under 16 to avoid operating snowmobiles. Even with the most responsible of adults, accidents can happen; a little joy ride with a child under the age of 6 can turn into a big injury. Stick to snow tubing and the bunny slopes until they’re a little older!

Goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles or ATVs should always be worn, and snowmobiles should never be used to pull people on snowboards or skis. Snowmobiling should never occur alone, and the snowmobile should be kept on designated trails.

Whether you’re outside singing “Let it Snow” or begging someone to come out to build a snowman, we hope you have found these tips useful, and that you and your children have a safe and healthy winter season.

About Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP
Robert J. Deutsch, MD, MPH, FAAP, joined Emergency Medical Associates in 2009. He is clinical director of the pediatric emergency department at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. He also works clinically in the pediatric emergency department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J.

Dr. Deutsch received his undergraduate degree and his medical degree from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He completed his pediatric residency at North Shore-LIJ in New Hyde Park, N.Y., and his pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at The University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., where he also obtained his master’s degree in public health.