Condition Your Back for Winter

Don’t let winter snow put your back out of whack.

Back pain following a few hours of shoveling snow is all too common.  In a recent article that appeared in the Fairfield and Westchester  town sites of the Daily Voice, interventional sports and spine specialist, Dr. Alex Levchenko, advised readers to make sure their back muscles were in working order well before the first mounds of snow fall.

The article, It’s Time to Train for Shoveling Snow, Says ONS by John Haffety, Dr. Levchenko warned that all too often, people who are inactive throughout the year underestimate the physical challenge involved in clearing snow.  Even someone in good shape can strain their back from the rotation of lifting and tossing snow onto a pile.

“You should take the time to strengthen your core and back muscles just as you should before starting any strenuous activity,” he said. “You wouldn’t walk into a gym and try to lift 100 pounds if you haven’t lifted weights before. You would build up your strength. It’s the same thing with shoveling snow.”

Dr. Levchenko said the number of patients he sees with back pain increases after every large snowfall. “People tend to think of shoveling snow as a nuisance when it is really an intense form of exercise.”

When large snowfalls do occur, he recommended getting ahead of the accumulations by shoveling smaller amounts every few hours rather than waiting for it to pile up and freeze.

Before tackling the job, it’s important to warm up your muscles. Once outside, maintaining proper posture and body mechanics will minimize stress to the weaker back muscles. Dr. Levchenko recommends avoiding rounding the lower back. Instead, shovellers should keep a straight back and lean forward with a slight bend in their knees.

It’s also important to use your core, hips and hamstrings to provide strength and stability rather than relying on your back and shoulder muscles to do the heavy lifting. Using ergonomically designed “push” shovels can also help ease lower back strain.

Dr. Levchenko advises people with pre-existing back conditions to avoid shoveling altogether. “It’s better to pay someone else to do it and save yourself from all the ways the increased back pain will impact your life,” he said.

Upcoming Free Seminars by ONS at Greenwich Hospital

Mark your calendars for these upcoming seminars by
ONS physicians!

Low Back Pain and Spine Disorders

Neurosurgeon Scott Simon, MD

Tuesday, February 7, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Greenwich Hospital, Noble Conference Center

Join neurosurgeon, Scott Simon, MD as he dispels myths about what works and what doesn’t work to treat low back pain. He will talk about prevention of low back injury, the importance of proper diagnostics and review “what’s new” in treatments.

Dr. Simon specializes in the treatment of spinal disorders. He is one of a few physicians nationwide who is trained in both neurological surgery and orthopedic techniques to treat scoliosis in adolescents and adults and is an expert in minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Simon graduated from UMDNJ – New Jersey Medical School. He performed his residency at The University of Pennsylvania and did Fellowship training in spine surgery and scoliosis at The Schriners Hospital for Children, in Philadelphia.

To register, call 203-863-4277 or 888-305-9253.

Or register online.

 

Joint Replacement Educational Seminar

Wednesday, March, 28, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Greenwich Library Cole Auditorium
101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

Speakers: Joint replacement specialists Frank Ennis, MD and Brian Kavanagh, MD

Many people suffer from severe pain caused by arthritis, a fracture or other conditions that make common activities such as walking, putting on shoes or getting in and out of a car, extremely difficult. Today, over 600,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Deciding if- and when- it’s time to consider joint replacement surgery are important decisions.

Greenwich Hospital will host a Joint Replacement Educational Seminar at the Greenwich Library led by orthopedic experts Dr. Frank Ennis and Dr. Brian Kavanagh that will provide answers to many commonly asked questions, including how to know if you need a hip or knee replacement, the best way to prepare for surgery, and what to expect from the recovery and rehabilitation process. The surgeons will also discuss what’s new in the field of joint replacement and how materials and techniques have improved over the years.

Registration is required. To register, call 203-863-4277 or 888-305-9253. The Joint Replacement Educational Seminar will also be made available in an online video on the hospital website, www.greenhosp.org and at www.onsmd.com after April 11.