Home Blog Low Back Pain: Unmasking the Seasonal Culprits!

Low Back Pain: Unmasking the Seasonal Culprits!

Feb 23, 2024 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

Every season ushers in specific tasks that necessitate physical exertion, even if we may not particularly enjoy them. In winter, for instance, the thought of shoveling snow comes to mind, especially in certain regions. Spring, summer, and fall, on the other hand, may involve yard work, mowing, and raking. All these seasonal chores fall under the category of "I have to" activities of daily living (ADLs), rather than activities we enthusiastically choose to do. Let's focus on shoveling snow, but keep in mind that this advice can also be applied to gardening, digging, or similar yard-related activities.

To better understand why back pain is a common issue when shoveling, consider these facts:

  1. When we bend over, we are essentially lifting about 2/3rds of our body weight in addition to the weight we are lifting. For instance, a person weighing 180 pounds (~80 kg) has to lift an additional 120 pounds (~54 kg) of body weight each time they bend over.
  2. Holding a 5-pound weight (~2.25 kg) at the end of a shovel can exert a load of up to 50 pounds (22.5 kg) on your back.
  3. Our leg muscles are significantly stronger than our back and arm muscles. If a person can bench press 300 pounds (~136 kg), they can typically leg press 500 pounds (~236 kg) or nearly twice the weight. However, when shoveling, most people rely on their arms rather than their legs.
  4. Many of us use poor bending techniques, lift the shovel with our arms and back instead of our legs, and quickly twist our backs while tossing the material from the shovel.
  5. This incorrect technique is repeated multiple times, and since shoveling is not a routine activity for most people, we are physically unprepared and not "in shape" for it.

Given these realities, it's no surprise that we often experience stiffness and discomfort after just an hour of shoveling. So, what can be done to minimize the risk of injury?

While hiring someone else to do the shoveling is a practical choice, let's assume you need to do it yourself. We can't change the fact that most of our body weight is above our waist, but we can reduce the amount of material on the shovel to lessen the load on our back. When shoveling, it's crucial to squat down using the strong leg muscles while maintaining a vertical and straight back—avoid bending over. Maintain an arched back and stick out your buttocks to preserve the natural curve of your lower back. Lift the shovel or material straight up using your legs, keeping your arms and elbows straight, and carry the load to the dumping area without twisting your body. Take frequent breaks and switch sides to prevent overworking the same muscle groups.

If you do experience back discomfort after shoveling, treat it as you would a cut on your skin—avoid aggravating it so it can heal. Rest, apply ice, and engage in gentle stretching and modified activities. Do not rush back to shoveling immediately. Some wise practices for shoveling include warming up before starting, maintaining physical fitness throughout the year, following a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate sleep.

So, if you are interested in no longer chasing your tail on the pain gerbil wheel and type in pain management near me or chiropractor near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up. 

You may wonder, “Is There a Better Way to Address Actually Fixing the Cause of the Pain?”

Once you have experienced the frustration of simply covering over the pain temporarily, you may be more enlightened to the idea of fixing the problem and then keep it that way. Some around you say one description of such an approach is called wellness care.


Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at Coast Chiropractic Centers at (239) 278-3344 or stop by on your day off if we’re near you for a walk in visit and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment. So if you find yourself experiencing lower back pain while running or doing physical activities.

If you feel like a gerbil on a perpetual pain wheel and you know it is negatively affecting your quality of life and keeping you from enjoying walks at Fort Myers Beach, playing golf, tennis, pickle ball or others, come see us at Coast Chiropractic Centers located on 7270 College Parkway. 

Schedule Your Appointment Here

Coast Chiropractic Centers Map

If you would like to avoid getting back pain in the first place or to take a proactive approach to your health and wellness nearby, our membership program called Club C may be just the thing for you with great cost savings, convenience, and even more importantly, a plan to get your health back and keep it.

Don't let back pain stop you from enjoying the beautiful SWFL!  Dr. Tim Harcourt is here to give you the relief you need. 


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