Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain to the lower back and shoulders. Back injuries due to snow shoveling are more likely to happen to people who may not know that they are out of condition.
Following these tips can help you avoid injuries:
Lift smaller loads of snow. Lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow can add strain on your back Be sure to take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back.
Use a shovel with a short shaft. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier. Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help prevent “next-day back fatigue.”
Avoid excessive twisting. The spine cannot tolerate tolerate other movements. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you are lifting with your legs.
Take frequent breaks when shoveling.. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.
Perform backward bending exercises while standing. This will help reverse the excessive forward bending of shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing pain, contact Cardinal Physical Therapy, your partner in physical therapy care.