Snow Shoveling 101: Seven Suggestions to Prevent Backpain

Blackman pressing an ice bag on his aching back

Blackman pressing an ice bag on his aching back

Since many people are engaging in the necessary task of snow shoveling and hurting their backs in the process, I wanted to post a checklist of things to consider before heading out in the cold. I’ve scoured the internet and come up with a compilation of suggestions that seem to make the most sense.

Here goes:

  1. Many posts remarked that shoveling snow is like an athletic event. One estimated that the average shovel of snow can weigh around 16 lbs, in wet snow conditions, and if a quick pace was maintained that in 10 mins. you could have lifted 2,000 lbs. of wt.!! Sooo…Consider your present state of health. If you have heart trouble, high blood pressure, breathing issues, back issues or just don’t physically feel up to the task, it may be best to wait and/or enlist the help of family, friends or neighbors.
  2. Layer up your clothing. If you’ve got a big job ahead, you’re going to perspire. Taking layers off keeps your clothes from getting damp which can lead to lowering your core temperature and hypothermia.
  3. Hydrate before and after to replace fluids lost through perspiration. Avoid caffeinated drinks that may raise your heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. Most posts seemed to favor the ergonomically curved shovel as it requires less bending of the back to use. These shovels are well suited for pushing the snow aside vs lifting and throwing the snow. Supporting the shovel at about belt height can lessen the strain on back muscles as you push.
  5. When using either type of shovel: Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Take a wide grip on the shovel and if you lift the load of snow, hold it close to your body. As you lift with your legs (and not your back), lift your chin up as well. This keeps your spine in better alignment during the effort. When you throw the snow: step into it. Have your nose follow your toes! No twisting of your back when throwing the snow.
  6. For wet sticky snow, spray the shovel with Pam to prevent it from sticking to the shovel.
  7. Rather than taking on the whole pile of snow at once, consider smaller shovels full. Maybe 3″ at a time. It will take longer, but when your done, you’re done. Your less likely to have to then start nursing an aching back!

Should all of your best efforts still result in a sore back, give me a call to make an appointment. 🙂

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

Let Stress Be Your Friend

I realize it may seem counter intuitive to have my first blog posting encourage you to make “Stress Your Friend”. Stress and the havoc it can reek in our bodies is what brings many a customer to my office. The purpose of this website, though, is not only to promote my business, but also to promote a healthy life style through education. I hope you find Kelly McGonigal’s “Let Stress Be Your Friend” presentation to be as fascinating, and enlightening as I did! I could not conceive of a better example of the mind-body connection that exists, or the impact that that connection has in our lives. Stress is an inevitable part of life. How we perceive and interpret the impact of stressors in our life can literally mean the difference between life and death. I think it’s safe to say that “Letting Stress Be Your Friend” is a process or a path to choose. Let the journey begin…

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

Thanksgiving and the importance of gratitude.


Thanksgiving. More than a day to watch parades, football or the dog show – though they are fun to do! More than a day to (perhaps) over indulge in delicious food and drink. Yes, even more than a day to (hopefully) enjoy the company of family and friends. Thanksgiving: this most American of holidays, was intended as a day of gathering and gratitude. Giving Thanks.
Did you know that the practice of giving thanks, having gratitude, can help relieve the stress in your life? It’s true.

I found this article at Life 123 -(Answers at the Speed of Life) by Rachel Mork, that sums up the practice quite well.

***We all experience some amount of stress in our daily lives. Even when it seems unbearable, there are many stress relievers we can use to try and alleviate some of the worry and anxiety we face. The practice of expressing gratitude is one of many stress management techniques that can diffuse negativity, replacing it with a sense of goodwill towards all, that many people find empowering.
Stress from the daily flux of good and bad in our lives can produce anxiety, tension, anger and pain in our lives. These negative emotions can lead to physical pain as tense muscles, higher blood pressure and unhealthy coping mechanisms combine to bring you down an undesirable path. One way to combat negativity and stress is to practice gratitude, focusing your mind and energy on the positive in your life.
The practice of expressing gratitude is simple. Many people choose to do this in a gratitude journal, but even making a list on a scrap piece of paper will do the trick. When you are distressed, simply find a quiet place and begin listing positive things for which you are truly grateful.  Some people jot down simple notes and stop at five positive things. Others list out every single positive blessing regardless of its magnitude, looking for the positive until they feel they have exhausted all possibilities.
After listing your blessings, you may wish to repeat the list out loud or to meditate on each positive item on your list, embracing the goodness of the blessing and releasing the negative in your life. You may want to share some of the positive things in your life with someone else. Verbalizing your gratitude can be very powerful. If you feel stirred to thank someone for these things, make a call or write an e-mail or letter to the person towards which you feel gratitude.
The benefits of expressing gratitude have even been documented in scientific studies. It appears that expressing gratitude works as a protective, healing, emotional energy force. In one study conducted by the Mississippi University for Women and UC Davis, patients who had received organ transplants were separated into two groups. One group took daily notes on treatments and progress. The second group took notes on treatments and progress and wrote down five things for which they were grateful each day.  The group that kept a gratitude journal reported higher mental well being scores at the end of the study.***

To take Rachel’s idea one step further: Perhaps rather than waiting until times of stress are upon you, to practice the routine of finding gratitude, instead of fault on a daily basis. First thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, and the last thing you do before drifting off to sleep can be a great way to start and end your day—and probably keep a fair amount of stress at bay.

Happy Thanksgiving from Therapeutic Bodyworks!  🙂

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

Back to School Back Pain: Ergonomics for children (and grown-ups too!)

Child with Heavy School Homework Book BagPediatricians, physical therapists, and massage therapists are seeing more young patients complaining of back and neck pain. The culprit is often overloaded backpacks.

Backpack weight:
According to the American Chiropractic Association, backpack weight is contributing to pain earlier than in previous generations. By 4th or 5th grades, children are packing textbooks and instuments as well as cell phones, iPods and even lap tops.

Backpack guidelines:
You can help your child strategize about how to prevent or recover from injury and pain from carrying too much weight.

1) Limit backpack weight to 15% of your child’s weight. If your child weighs 75 pounds, the maximum backpack weight should be 10 pounds. If 125 pounds, your child should carry 18 pounds or less.

2) Use a backpack with wide straps, and wear it on both shoulders.

3) Only pack what is necessary. Maybe they don’t need to carry all their books every day.

4) If they have a locker, they can leave the books they aren’t using until needed. If they don’t have one, a second copy of textbooks could be left at home.

5) A backpack on wheels could be a good option.

Grown-ups, you may also be busily moving around- from home to work to school or the gym with a backpack, laptop case or messenger bag slung over your shoulder. Use the guidelines above to prevent injury and pain as you go about your daily activities this fall.

Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it.
-George Elliot

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

Will you walk….or will you walk away?

On Oct. 18th & 19th of this year I (along with my sister Adele Hayes and good friend Anne Lazarony) will be participating in the (NYC) Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It is a 39.3 mile walk taking place over the course of those two days. Our team name is “Bosom Buddies” and we have committed to raising $1800.00 (each) and completing the walk. Please take a moment to view this powerful and informative video. Any donation would be greatly appreciated to help us meet our goal. Simply click on this link ( to access our team fundraising page, where you can make a tax deductible donation. Please feel free to pass the word along to anyone you think might be interested  in supporting this effort.

Thank You in advance.


Watch this great video

Christmas is coming!

Christmas will be here before you know it! Why not buy the ones you love the gift of relaxation? No worries about the right color or size. Everyone can use some relaxation! Buy a single Gift Certificate or purchase a package that can be shared with the entire family. Everyone will be de-stressed and chilled out in the coming year.

What’s not to like about that?

Call (518) 573-5059 to get a high quality, festive Gift Certificate.

For those last minute shoppers out there (you know who you are!) you can go on-line to purchase Gift Certificates and print them out for presentation.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year, to you and yours, from Therapeutic Bodyworks!