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Q: How can I avoid back injuries during winter months?

Posted March 12, 2014 in Advice Column, West Des Moines

We all know the mantra of “lift with your legs not with your back.” This is not just an old saying, it truly represents good advice. Although people frequently worry about the weight of an item being lifted, how an item is lifted is likely vastly more important than the actual weight of the item (within reason, of course).

Specifically, bending the knees and squatting to pick up even moderately heavy items rather than bending forward at the waist can dramatically lessen the likelihood of low back injury. Other techniques which may lessen the likelihood of injury to the low back include avoiding twisting activities. The damage caused by twisting activities is particularly heightened if the twisting occurs while bending at the same time, and injury may be even more dramatic if bending, twisting and lifting occur at the same time.

Picture the typical position of shoveling snow: bending forward, lifting a heavy shovel of snow and then flinging the snow off to the side. This may be a perfect recipe for causing injury.

None of this should be a reason to avoid activity or an excuse to leave the driveway buried in snow; however, increased awareness of body mechanics may lessen the likelihood of injury.

Information provided by Dr. David Hatfield, spine surgeon, Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons (DMOS), 6001 Westown Parkway, (515) 224-5212.

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