Tips For Avoiding Back Injury While Shoveling Snow

Winter season is upon us, which means snow storms will be the norm over the next few months. Although staying home and sipping hot cocoa while watching snow fall is beautiful and magical, the reality sets in when you have to clear it off your driveway, car, and stairs. Shoveling snow in icy and frigid weather can cause injuries.

Think about it – 5-10 days out of the WHOLE year (at least here in New Jersey) – you will need to get up early, go outside, and shovel 5-15 lb of snow repeatedly until you’re finished. That’s a pretty serious cardio and weight training activity and if you don’t typically hit the gym on a regular basis – can be devastating for your shoulder, arm, back, neck, and legs. Even if you are in tip-top shape – all it takes is one wrong twist and injuries ensue.

Snow shoveling can cause spasms, strains, and sprains. It can cause new injuries or exacerbate old ones. The ACA (American Chiropractic Association) suggests the following tips for safe snow shoveling:

TIME – give yourself plenty of time to shovel before you have to leave the house.

LAYER – clothing that is! It’s important o keep your muscles warm and flexible.

WARM UP – Shoveling can strain “deconditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs – so make sure you stretch before grabbing your shovel.

PUSH, DON’T THOW – when you shovel, push the snow with the shovel (don’t try to throw it). Walk it to the snow bank and avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.

BEND YOUR KNEES – to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.

BREAKS – take them frequently to rest and take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.

KNOW WHEN TO STOP – If you feel chest pain, get really tired or have shortness of breath – you may need emergency assistance.

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