Had to shovel a lot of snow lately? We’ve got your back! Snow is heavy, and if you haven’t been hitting the gym regularly, you may be waking up to some aches and pains. Luckily, we have some tips that can help you dig yourself out more safely!
“Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain to the lower back and shoulders, especially if a person is out of condition,” says APTA spokesperson Margot Miller, PT, of Cloquet, Minnesota. “Snow shoveling is also heavy work, so it’s important to pay attention to how you lift.”
- Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than heavy shovelfuls. Make Sure to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than with your back.
- Use a shovel with a handle that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short handle will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier.
- Because the spine cannot tolerate twisting as well as it can other movements, it is important to avoid this movement as much as possible. Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help avoid the “next-day back fatigue” experienced by people who shovel snow.
- Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.
- Standing backward-bending exercises will help reverse the excessive forward bending that occurs while shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backward slightly for several seconds.
With proper precautions and correct snow shoveling techniques, injuries to the shoulders and lower back can often be avoided. If you or someone you know has back pain, please give us a call at 516-829-0030. We will be happy to help!