With winter comes snow, which while beautiful, also comes with increased back pain and injury from shoveling it to keep driveways and sidewalks clear. Good biomechanics are essential in preventing low back pain from shoveling snow. Many people don’t realize just how strenuous this chore can be or how much strain it can put on your back. Here are six ways you can set yourself up for success, so that you can minimize your risk of back pain this winter season.
Warm Up Beforehand
Shoveling snow is an exercise, which means that a key part of preventing low back pain from shoveling snow is warming up properly beforehand, the same as you would for any other exercise. You’re much more likely to hurt yourself if you try to shovel snow with cold muscles. Stretching, rolling out your shoulders, going on a walk around your house, and other warm ups will make it easier on your muscles to shovel snow.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Snow can be heavy. Improper lifting can make even lifting a box of soda far more strenuous on your back than if you did it properly. Using proper lifting techniques is essential to preventing low back pain from shoveling snow. Here is how you can utilize proper lifting techniques when shoveling snow:
- Face the snow head on. Twisting puts undue strain on your back.
- Bend from your knees and your hips, not your spine. You want your leg muscles to do the lifting, because using your back to lift things puts a lot of strain on your back, which can easily hurt it.
- Use your abs! Tightening your abdominal muscles gives your spine more stability when you are lifting.
- Don’t lift too much. Trying to tackle big shovelfuls of snow is more strenuous than light loads.
- Keep one hand by the blade and one on the handle for the best stability.
- Don’t twist. As mentioned before, if you twist while lifting or moving snow, this increases the stress on the muscles around your spine.
- Keep the snow close to your body. If you’re working on preventing low back pain from shoveling snow, holding the snow at a distance from your body isn’t the way to do it. It’s easier for your body to support the load if you keep it close to your body.
- Don’t toss it. Walking to where you want to put the snow will keep you from twisting in order to toss it.
Make Sure You Have The Right Footwear
In order to ensure you have good traction and stability, you need the right kind of footwear. You’re going to be a lot less stable shoveling snow in sneakers than you would be in boots that have a good tread. Stability is essential to preventing low back pain. If you’re struggling to keep your feet under you, you’ll definitely be struggling to support your spine while you shovel, greatly increasing your risk of injury.
Use Salt Or Sand
Snow often results in icy, slick surfaces, which makes it hard to have good traction when you’re trying to shovel it and results in higher risk of slipping and injury. Spreading salt or sand over the area you’re going to be shoveling will give you better traction, which will make preventing low back pain from shoveling snow easier, as well as preventing other related injuries from falls.
Take Your Time
There’s no need to rush shoveling snow, especially if you’re trying not to hurt yourself. Doing it little by little and taking plenty of breaks will reduce the amount of strain your body is under and prevent overexertion. If the snow you’re trying to shovel is deep, don’t try to get it all at once, but rather, work in layers from the top of the snow to the bottom.
Don’t Wait For It To Pile Up
You may be tempted to put off shoveling your driveway or sidewalk. But if you’re working on preventing low back pain from shoveling snow, you want to try to keep it from piling up too much, so that there is less chance of strain and stress on your back.
Do You Want To Learn More About Preventing Low Back Pain From Shoveling Snow?
Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy knows how much stress shoveling snow can put on your back. We want to help you prevent back pain. We can provide you with additional tips for preventing low back pain from shoveling snow, as well as treat any back pain you suffer from. For any questions or to learn more about our services, please contact us at Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy today!