Dr. Jeffrey I. Kennis,  D.C.
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Boston, MA 02109
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Posts for: February, 2019

By Waterfront Chiropractic
February 12, 2019
Category: Spine Health
Tags: Untagged

Winter may offer fun seasonal pastimes, but it can also bring cold temperatures and icy surfaces that lead to injury. When you head outside this winter, here’s how you can prevent injury:

Image of person shoveling snow

Snow shoveling is a common cause of back injuries during the winter months. There are several snow removal tips that can help you avoid low back injuries and pain during the winter season. Snow Shoveling Techniques to Prevent Low Back Injuries

Protect your back while shoveling snow

Shoveling snow is a common cause of back pain and injury, but it doesn’t have to be.

See Avoid Back Injury with the Right Lifting Techniques

  1. Get an ergonomic snow shovel. One with a curved handle or adjustable handle length can cut down on painful bending and arching. A small, lightweight blade on the shovel can help reduce the amount weight you pick up, further decreasing chance of injury.
  2. Use your legs, not your back. When you reach down to shovel snow, bend at the knees without rounding your lower back. To lift the snow, push up with your legs instead of letting your back muscles do the work. Wear a back brace or lifting belt to help encourage correct posture.
  3. Keep your movements compact. Avoid twisting your body to the side to move snow or tossing snow with your arms extended. Always square your shoulders and face the snow you are shoveling. Carry the shovel close to your body while you walk over to the spot you want to deposit snow.

See 4 Tips to Protect Your Back When Shoveling

Some people may follow these recommendations and still experience back pain. To avoid shoveling snow altogether, purchase a snowblower to use or ask a neighbor for help.

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Minimize your chance of falling

Slips and falls are more likely to occur during winter, due to hazardous conditions. Certain steps can be taken to minimize the risk of falls as much as possible.

  1. Hold for balance. Grab onto the handrail when walking a flight of stairs outside, even if the steps don’t appear to be icy.
  2. Apply ice melt. Lightly coat outdoor walkways and stairs with salt before and after a snowfall to reduce slipperiness.
  3. Wear winter boots with high-quality tread. They can help you grip the ground and stay balanced.
  4. Stock up on food before a storm hits. This way you can avoid going outside for groceries during hazardous conditions.
  5. Ask a neighbor for help. See if a person who lives nearby can bring your mail to the door and take your garbage out.

If you ever feel yourself falling, try to land on your side or buttocks. Don't fight the fall—try to roll naturally, allowing your head to turn in the direction of the roll.

See When to Seek Medical Care for Low Back Pain

Try these tips and see if they help you stay safe when you go outside this winter. Dress warmly, too, wearing several layers of light, loose clothing to protect yourself from extreme temperatures. And if you do get injured during a winter activity, seek immediate medical attention.

Learn more:

Additional Lifting Techniques to Avoid Back Injury

Causes of Lower Back Pain


By Waterfront Chiropractic
February 12, 2019
Category: Neck Pain
Tags: Untagged

A neck spasm is when your neck muscles suddenly, involuntarily tighten. Your neck becomes painful and stiff, likely affecting your ability to turn your head. An awkward neck movement or stress-related muscle tension is often what triggers a neck spasm. While the experience may not last too long, it can be very unpleasant.

Image of a woman holding her neck in pain

Most neck spasms are caused by a sudden muscle strain.
Read
 Neck Strain: Causes and Remedies

If you have a neck spasm, here’s a quick guide to relieving the pain.

Article continues below

Stretch

Try to relax your spasming neck muscles. Stretching may be an effective method to loosen and soften your muscles, which tighten and seize up during a spasm.

See Neck Stretches

Perform a stretch that lengthens your lateral neck muscles. One way to do this is to keep your shoulders in place and tilt your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck. But if a certain movement causes more pain, stop it and gently try a different movement.

See Easy Levator Scapulae Stretch for Neck Pain

image of woman doing the lateral flexion stretch for neck spasm pain relief

Try these 4 stretches to relax the neck muscles, which tighten and seize up during a spasm. Watch: 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain Video

Get a massage

Massage therapy can help you relax, which may calm your tight muscles and ease the pain from your neck spasm. Gentle pressure placed on the stiff, tender points in your neck may release tension from the constricted muscles, providing relief and restoring range of motion to your neck.

See Massage Therapy for Chronic Stiff Neck

Take NSAIDs

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve), may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain brought on by a neck spasm. These medications won’t treat any underlying problems that may be setting off your neck spasm, but they can provide quick-acting first aid. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before use.

See Medications for Back Pain and Neck Pain

Apply cold/heat therapy

Medical illustration of the different types of heat and cold therapies including hot water bottle, hot shower, heating pad, bag of ice, ice pack, cooling cream

Applying heat and/or cold therapy can help to relieve pain and inflammation in your neck.

Cold therapy can reduce local inflammation, which may help relieve pain from your neck spasm. Fill a plastic bag with ice and some water and wrap it in a thin towel, then press it against the painful area on your neck.

See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief

You may also find relief through heat therapy. Apply a heating pad, switched on a low setting, to the tender area of your neck. If you prefer, stand in the shower with a gentle stream of warm water hitting your neck. The warmth can increase blood flow to the affected area and soothe your pain overall.

See How to Apply Heat Therapy

When applying ice or heat, limit applications to about 15 minutes every 2 hours to reduce the risk for skin damage.

Relax

Your neck spasm may indicate that your neck has moved in ways it shouldn’t, and your tense muscles probably need a rest. One way to relax is to lie on your back with a cervical pillow or neck roll under your head and a pillow under your knees. Play calming music or a podcast to help pass the time as you relax.

Watch: Pillows and Positions for Easing Neck Pain Video

Most neck spasms occur because of a sudden muscle strain and should clear up within a week. If the pain persists or gets worse, it may indicate an underlying spinal problem. If this describes your experience, visit your doctor.

Watch: Neck Strains and Sprains Video

Learn more:

Chronic Neck Pain: What Condition Is Causing My Neck Pain?

Treatment for Neck Pain