Focus on Family: Advice on preventing cold weather injuries

Dr. Lynn Capodagli, chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic of Chicago
The Joint Chiropractic of Chicago

Seven locations in the greater Chicagoland area.

Before shoveling, it’s a good idea to do the following:

  • March in place, walk, or stretch for a few minutes to get your blood pumping and your muscles moving.
  • Pace yourselfby taking breaks, don’t work to the point of exhaustion. Clear several times a day without letting snow and ice pile up.
  • Get rid of snow by pushing itinstead of lifting or throwing it.
  • Avoid sudden twisting or turning motions.
  • Bend your knees to liftwhen shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • A shovel with a curved or adjustable handle length minimizes painful bending and a small lightweight plastic blade (instead of metal) helps cut down on the amount of weight you’re lifting. If using a full-size metal shovel, only partially fill it.

*According to the National Safety Council  If you have previous injuries to your ankles, knees or lower back, wear a brace when shoveling.


Neck Stretch (Isometric Neck Push)Neck pushes can improve upper back issues and overall posture. Start in a seated or standing position. Place palm of your hand on one side of your head. Keep your head in a neutral position while pressing your hand against your head and your head against your hand. Repeat this on the front, back and sides of your head, then release.

Hip Mobility (Piriformis Stretch): This stretch helps avoid lower back pain by increasing hip mobility. Start in a seated position, placing ankle on your knee. Gently lean forward until you feel a pull around the hip of the bent leg. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side, then release.

Hip Stretch (IT Band Stretch): Prolonged sitting can also cause knee and hip pain. Start by standing near a wall and place your hand high on the wall for balance. Take the leg closest to the wall and cross it behind your other leg. Gently push your hips toward the wall, and you will feel a stretch on the outside of the hip and leg. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side and then release.

Lumbar Stretch (Hip Flexor Lunge): This addresses the muscles that attach directly to the lower part of your spine. Start with one knee on the floor and the other foot out ahead of you. While keeping your spine straight and upright, begin to shift your weight forward. As you move forward, you will feel a pulling sensation from your thigh upwards to your belly button. Repeat on opposite side, then release.

Cobra Stretch: Lay on your stomach, place your hand under your shoulders and press up, keeping your hips planted on the ground. For a deeper stretch, you can look to the ceiling if you feel comfortable.