Avoid Back Injury While Shoveling Snow This Winter

Shoveling snow can be incredibly hard on your back, and improper technique can lead to injury and back pain. The following tips will help you shovel your walk while avoiding debilitating injuries.

Be Prepared Before Going Outside

Before you start shoveling, it's important to prepare your body and loosen up your muscles. Perform these stretches before going outside:

  • Arm circles. Make large circles at the sides of your body with your arms. Do this with each arm.
  • Squats. Squat down as far as you can go without lifting your heels from the ground, then stand up again. Do this several times.
  • Twists. Stand straight and twist your body to look over your left shoulder, then twist your body to look over your right shoulder. Do this multiple times looking over each side.
  • Neck rolls. Slowly and smoothly roll your head around on your shoulders.

Once you've warmed up, gather the right tools to shovel the walk. You'll need boots that have good traction, to prevent you from slipping and falling on your back. You should also have a shovel that is made of lightweight plastic because the snow itself will already be quite heavy. If possible, purchase an ergonomic shovel with grippers to help you hold on to the handle while you work.

Push, Don't Lift

The best way to shovel your walk is to push the snow to the side, instead of lifting it. If you must lift the snow, plan to lift in small quantities to keep the weight down. Keep your back straight and lift from the knees. Never twist your body to throw the snow over your shoulder. Twisting your body can result in serious injury. Instead, turn your full body to face the direction where you want to dump the snow.

Work in Short Bursts

Take frequent breaks and avoid working for long periods of time. Working for long stretches can wear out your muscles and lead to injury. If possible, start shoveling snow early during the storm, before the snow has begun to accumulate in large amounts. This will allow you to complete the job in a short period of time, and you may find it's easier to shovel the walk repeatedly through the course of the snowstorm, instead of waiting to the end when the snow has piled up in unmanageable drifts.

If you should fall or injure yourself, seek medical treatment right away. Back injuries that go untreated can lead to chronic pain and long-term damage. For more information, consider contacting a professional like those at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates.