Shoveling snow can result in back injuries or worse. We all need to get out of the house eventually following a huge snowfall like the one we just experienced here in Durham, NC. Keep a few things in mind, however, prior to going outside to shovel that snow. Back injuries and heart attacks due to snow shoveling are all too common and can be avoided. When shoveling snow, take a moment to assess the situation and realize the job may take more time than you think. Don’t rush the process—hurrying will add to the possibility of falling as well as increase the stress of the situation. Get your warm high traction boots on, suit up, grab your shovel, and head outside once you’ve taken a few moments to consider how to best approach the task. Wet snow is going to be very heavy. When you dig your shovel down into the snow, assess how heavy each shovel full is before trying to lift it, especially if you plan to twist around and pile that shovel full to the side.Twisting with the added weight of snow can injure your back quickly; doing that repetitively can cause spinal joint irritation or even a herniated disc. You may not feel the effects of injury immediately due to the numbing effects of cold so be sure to take breaks periodically. Be aware of the amount of cardiac exercise involved in moving snow, as well. Crouching, digging, lifting and twisting heavy loads repeatedly in the cold puts a lot of strain on your heart, especially if you are stressed in a hurry. Stay safe out there!
How does weather affect pain levels? Many people say that they can tell when a storm is coming on because their arthritis flares up. Studies show that a 10 degree drop in temperature creates a commensurate increase in pain levels. A drop in barometric pressure makes people more physically uncomfortable. When it rains or humidity levels are high people also experience more pain. Arthritis can feel worse around the time a storm is brewing because factors that disturb the weather outside also increase inflammation in your body. Cold constricts already damaged joint surfaces causing more friction, humidity causes more swelling of already swollen areas and decreased barometric pressure irritates joints and muscles.
Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. A rheumatic condition, arthritis is associated with many things: heredity and genetics, viruses, wear and tear, diet, immune system function, and stress. Joints affected may be widespread or limited to specific areas such as the hands, hips, feet, or back. Blood test markers such as ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) or CRP (C reactive protein) to measure inflammation will be elevated in arthritis. While stormy weather may make you want to stay in bed and eat comfort food, this may not be the best approach to reduce pain and inflammation.
When pain intrudes it is important to remember to move your body to reduce stagnation of systems that heal you. Prepare in advance to include a bit of movement in your daily plan on stormy days. This can include walking around the house, attending to chores, or venturing outside if weather permits. Movement will mobilize tissues, detoxify, and warm the body.
If cold worsens pain, try to stay warm. Wear warm clothes and socks and shoes in cold environments. If you can get to one, an infrared sauna can be very healing. A warm Epsom salt bath can deep heat your muscles, joints, and bones to reduce arthritis pain. Warmth will reduce cold in the body and help to detoxify.
When the weather is bad, eating well can improve your mood and mental state and reduce pain. To reduce inflammation, try to eat more naturally occurring fruits and vegetables which will provide you with lots of fiber and vitamin C and A to heal your joints and reduce swelling. Drink warm tea to reduce inflammation and warm the interior. Increase the consumption of healthy proteins and fats, especially Omega 3 rich fish and flax oil to help improve the inflammation fighting Omega3:Omega 6 ratio.
As always, it is a good idea to drink adequate water throughout the day. Drink water rather than sodas, fruit juices, or alcohol to keep arthritis pain levels down. Especially avoid artificially sweetened beverages using aspartame as these increase inflammation in the body. Stevia is a better choice for non-sugar sweetener.
Chiropractic adjustments to the spine and extremities can help reduce pain and inflammation and acupuncture treatments to the meridians and channels of the body are supportive therapies if you need additional help. These healing treatments can keep arthritis flare ups at bay for the long run.
While preparing for stormy weather keep these tips in mind to help you survive any weather related event. Arthritis may help you predict an oncoming storm, but it doesn’t have to incapacitate you.
After seeing the movie RBG at a local theatre, I was impressed with this dynamo RBG and wrote to her trainer. He sent me a t shirt and copy of his book. I have referred several of my chiropractic and acupuncture clients to the book, and bought more copies for the office. It is my contention that working out in the manner outlined in this compact book will heal most people remarkably well. When combined with other natural healing methods, exercise is a powerhouse- just like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In his book
RBG Workout, trainer Bryant Johnson concisely describes how he came to work with the famous Justice RBG following her first bout with cancer 18 years ago. Her husband told her that she looked like an Auswitz survivor and suggested she get a trainer- the rest is history. She worked through that bout of cancer, all the while also working as a Supreme Court Justice; the training regimen Bryant created for her helped her to heal and gain strength, endurance and confidence. Several years later she was struck with pancreatic cancer and she survived this awful diagnosis as well. I have no doubt that her willingness to perform the workout exercises detailed in his book are at least partly responsible for her remarkable ability to heal from cancer as well as to maintain the mental clarity and agility she demonstrates on the Supreme Court.
The book starts out with a nice introduction from RBG herself. Following that, it describes easily performed stretches that work on preparing the body for a workout- the stretches are nicely described using basic home equipment. Next, the exercises are described, first demonstrated on gym equipment, then using basic weights and straps for people who can’t get to a gym or prefer to work at home. As always, timing and repetitions are detailed so that even a beginner can get some idea of how to do the exercises without overdoing them.
Many people would benefit from the workout described in nice detail in the book RBG Workout. It’s a full body exercise regimen that could be done a few times a week in total. If you have any questions,call my office. We are here to help.