Tips for shoveling snow without back pain
As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, low back pain is a common diagnosis among Americans and one of the most common things we treat at Absolute Kinetics Physical Therapy. In Ohio, there are 2 times of the year when we see an even larger number of patients with low back pain: the first nice weekend in May when patients dedicate an entire Saturday to yard work, and the first big snowfall of the year. With the first snow coming early to Cincinnati this year, we want to share a few tips for preventing injury to your low back while shoveling snow.
1) Push the snow instead of lifting when possible. As you know if you have ever shoveled snow before, snow can be much heavier than you think! Many people injure their backs when they load up the shovel and try to lift it. Push the snow instead to avoid increased stress on the low back.
2) If you do need to lift the snow, lift smaller amounts rather than trying to lift a heavy load all at once. Keep a wide base of support (feet hip width apart), bend at your hips and knees and use your legs to lift, keeping your back neutral. Walk the shovel over to where you need to dump the snow rather than throwing it. Also, turn your whole body if you need to turn, rather than twisting.
3) Keep the shovel close to you. The further the heavy part of the shovel is from your body, the less leverage you will have over the snow. Keep the shovel as close to you as possible and move with it, rather than pushing or reaching it far in front of you.
4) Try to keep up with the snow! Of course this isn’t always possible (we certainly aren’t getting up at 3 am to shovel snow!), but if you are sitting inside waiting for the snow to “stop” before you shovel, try to go out before it gets too bad. Again, snow is heavy, so shoveling a lighter portion and then shoveling a second time will be less strain on your body than trying to shovel very heavy snow all at once.
5) Be cautious to wear boots that have good tread on the bottom and use salt to help melt any ice in order to prevent falls.
6) We also recommend warming up before you go out with some gentle movements, stretching after, and drinking plenty of water following!
If you experience low back pain, or any other condition that is limiting your ability to complete daily tasks or participate in the activities you love, it’s time to reach out for an individualized assessment with us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (513) 208-2257, or text (419) 957-2484 to learn more.