While we can’t stop the snow from coming down, we can certainly prepare ourselves and keep our backs healthy! We all know snow shoveling can be a hassle. It can also be a pain in the neck. Literally! Every year, thousands of people seek medical attention at emergency rooms after injuring themselves while snow shoveling.
Follow these spine saving tips while shoveling:
- Start early. If the forecast calls for a lot of snow, start shoveling before the storm is over. It’s easier to clear small amounts of snow. And, you’ll be less likely to strain your back lifting shovelfuls of heavy, wet snow.
- Dress for the weather. Hats and gloves and coats will keep you warm. Layers will help, since you’re likely to warm up once you’ve started. But the most important piece of clothing is what you wear on your feet. Choose rugged boots or shoes with soles that grip slippery surfaces well.
- Stretch and warm up. It may seem silly, but a quick stretch to warm up your muscles will help prevent injuries.
- Choose the proper snow shovel. A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle will minimize painful bending, try slightly bending your knees and flex your back 10 degrees or less.
- Avoid tossing snow over the shoulders. Try pushing the snow rather than lifting. If you must lift the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends: “Lift it properly.” Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Do not bend at the waist!
- Keep your loads light and manageable. One full shovel can weigh as much as 25 pounds!
- Pace Yourself. Shovel small amounts of snow. Take a break from shoveling every 10-15 minutes. Use this time to continue stretching your muscles.
If you do pull a muscle, strain your back, or slip and fall JointHealing.com can help. While you should always consult your doctor after an injury, some injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice/heat and, occasionally, a back brace. We recommend the Chattanooga Theratherm Digital Moist Heat Pack for heat therapy, the DonJoy Iceman for cryotherapy, and the Breg Back Support with Side Pulls for back support – a great choice for preventing an injury in the first place!