Research shows low back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the emergency department after clearing snow.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Andrew Bang, D.C., warming up and stretching back muscles after shoveling is a good idea whether a person initially feels pain or not,

“Typically it’s best to apply heat and then perform some stretches along with that to get the muscle and the blood flow back up to where it was before,” said Dr. Bang. “Stretch out those tight knots that are trying to form from the repetitive motion of lifting and throwing the snow.”

Dr. Bang said most people won’t feel back pain from an activity like shoveling until the next morning.

When this happens, he recommends using heat coupled with exercises and stretches that target the lower back.

Toe touches, lumbar twists, and ‘superman’ exercises – where someone lies on their stomach, lifts their feet and hands, and arches the lower back – all work the low back muscles.

Dr. Bang said if back pain persists after three to four days and it’s painful, not just sore, it’s time to look into first-line treatments.

“If your pain lasts more than 48 hours after shoveling snow, you should seek out some non-invasive treatment,” he said. “That can include chiropractic care, physical therapy stretches and exercises, acupuncture, and deep tissue massage. Those are great non-invasive therapies to help you get better.”

If pain continues to linger after trying non-invasive treatments, it’s a good idea to follow up with a physician to talk about other potential options to relieve the pain.

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