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Shoveling Snow? Learn to Protect Your Back from Injury

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital offers free lecture & low back pain screening 

New Lenox, IL (January 3, 2014) —Since snow season has arrived, it’s time to arm yourself with a shovel and salt to dig through the snowdrifts and icy walkways. However if you’re prone to back injuries, you may want to consider hiring someone to remove the snow, while you sit back and enjoy drinking a cup of hot cocoa. So how can you prepare to shovel snow safely so not to injure your back? The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital is offering a lecture on eliminating back pain that will educate area residents on how to do so. 

Free Lecture on Back Pain

Dr. Andrew L. Hendrix, medical director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross, will present a free program titled: Common Causes and Non-Surgical Treatment of Low Back Pain, Monday, January 20 at 1 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, Pavilion A, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox.This FREE program will discuss the common causes of low back pain and provide options on how to live better without surgery. Register online to attend or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325). 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year approximately 16,500 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that happened while shoveling or removing ice and snow manually. Each year in the United States snow shoveling causes thousands of muscle sprains, broken bones, hurt backs, head injuries, and even deadly heart attacks.

“Since shoveling snow is definitely considered moderate exercise, people need to check with their physician to see if they should even shovel snow especially if they have a heart condition or do not exercise regularly,” says Dr. Andrew L. Hendrix, Jr, Medical Director for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. “If they are cleared to shovel, to avoid possible back injury and muscle strain, assume a safe stance. Stand with your feet about hip-width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. And bend from your knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. ” 

Other tips to avoid a snow-shoveling injury include:

  • Warm up with some light stretch exercises.
  • Dress appropriately by wearing slip-resistant shoes and light, layered, water repellent clothing that provides both ventilation and insulation.
  • Push snow. And if you have to lift snow, use the stronger leg muscles for support, not the back.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side because the twisting motion may stress your back.
  • Shovel often. The amount of snow that has to be removed is less and then lighter.
  • Use a proper snow shovel with a pole that is longer, adjustable, and curved to decrease the amount of bending needed to lower your risk of muscle injury. More user-friendly shovels are typically made of lighter materials such as plastic or lightweight aluminum. 
  • Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Don’t shovel more than 30 to 60 minutes, just like you would during a regular exercise session. 

Free Low Back Pain Screening

Suffering from lower back pain? Then schedule a FREE screening and treatment recommendation by an RIC physical therapist for individuals experiencing aches, pain, spasm, stiffness or weakness of the lower back. Screenings will occur between January 20 through 31 at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross in Homer Glen, 12701 West 143rd St. and at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) in West Joliet, Silver Cross Professional Building, 1051 Essington Rd., Joliet. Call (815) 300-6288 (Homer Glen) or (815) 300-6580 (West Joliet) to schedule an appointment. 

About Dr. Andrew Hendrix

Andrew L. Hendrix, Jr., M.D. FAAPM&R, is the Medical Director overseeing all inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services offered throughout at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital. Dr. Hendrix brings more than 15 years of physical medicine and rehabilitation practice experience to RIC at Silver Cross.  He leads RIC’s acute inpatient rehabilitation program at Silver Cross Hospital as well as at Silver Cross outpatient therapy facilities located at in Pavilion A on the hospital campus, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox; 250 E. Maple St. in New Lenox; 1051 Essington Rd. in Joliet; and the newest clinic at 12701 West 143rd in Homer Glen.

Dr. Hendrix is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and Pain Medicine.  He is an assistant professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  Dr. Hendrix completed a combined residency in internal medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Albert Einstein Medical Center and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. As Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross, his office is located at 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. To schedule an appointment, call (815) 300-2911.

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) have teamed up to expand post-acute physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Will County and the southwest Chicagoland communities. The partnership provides world-class rehabilitation care for a range of conditions for patients close to home. Silver Cross is the only healthcare facility in the area with this breadth of services in partnership with RIC. Together, Silver Cross and RIC provide rehabilitation services in inpatient and outpatient care settings at four locations. Additionally, the RIC team provides physical therapy services for patients on the hospital’s medical and surgical floors. For more information about RIC at Silver Cross, call (815) 300-7110 or visit

About Silver Cross Hospital

Silver Cross Hospital is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895. Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for seven consecutive years and as a Hospital of Choice by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 3,500 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a new 289-bed acute care hospital at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox and 8 satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).  Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care.  These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.


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