The snow has arrived here in Waterloo region, which means that most people will be shoveling their driveways and sidewalks. Snow removal is hard work and it accounts for many types of low back injuries if you aren’t careful. To ensure you all have a safe and pain free winter season, I’m sharing some easy and useful tips on how you can minimize your risk of back pain from shoveling snow.
Use a Shovel with a Curved Handle
Curved handles are more ergonomic than their typical straight counterparts. It is easier to push and lift the snow with them, and they discourage you from bending forward too much which would increase your risk of ending up with back pain.
Colder muscles are more prone to injury so it’s important to keep your body warm and mobile before engaging in any snow removal. Whether it is doing some dynamic stretches or going for a small walk before shoveling snow, it will reduce your risk of injury. It is also important to ensure that you have the proper clothing to keep you warm – like a winter jacket, gloves, hats, boots etc.
Don’t Wait for the Snow to Stop Falling
Many people choose to wait until it has stopped snowing to go and shovel because, let’s be honest, no one wants to shovel twice in one day. If you take this approach, you are potentially setting yourself up for a back injury. The snow will be much heavier and you are more likely to overload your back. Instead remove snow in small quantities. It will take a lot less time and your back will thank you.
Push, Don’t Throw
Ideally you should push the snow in front of you rather than lifting and throwing it to the side. This requires less repetitive work for the muscles and joints of your back. If you must lift the snow, then make sure you maintain a neutral spine, brace your core prior to and during the lift and throw the snow forwards. Whatever you do DON’T twist your back (your discs will not like you). If you have to move the snow to the side, lift the load and turn your whole body so you are facing where you want the snow to go before throwing it.
If you are experiencing back pain, don’t take the “wait and see” approach, see a health care professional for an assessment and treatment options to address the root cause of you back pain to prevent it from becoming recurrent and chronic. If you’re interested in Chiropractic Care, you can request an appointment here.
Happy snow shovelling everyone!