Safety Around Snow Shoveling

The winter is here in New England, so the inevitable will happen… Snow Storms. And with those snow storms, comes shoveling…. unless you have a snow blower. Low back pain is one of the most common injuries during the winter due to the increased volume (and load) of shoveling. Low back pain is also one of the leading causes of disability across the country. Here are some simple tips to help you get through the winter (hopefully) injury free:

  • Make sure to have a shovel that you are able to handle – that may mean getting a lightweight shovel but sturdy enough to handle the wet/heavy snow
  • Make sure to have the proper footwear (I.e. not flip flops, make sure to have a good pair of boots with good grip on the bottom) – this allows you have to have a firm, steady base of support when shoveling so you are able to utilize your legs more in the lifting
  • As with any exercise, try to warm up your joints a bit before jumping into the heavy lifting
  • START EARLY! And continue to clear the snow OFTEN. Don’t wait for the snow to pile up to over 1 foot – that will take a long time to clear. Think about it this way; is it easier to lift 5lbs for 30 reps or 50lbs for 5 reps? It’s easier to clear (albeit tedious) to clear the snow often, than if you waited for it to pile up (and potentially FREEZE OVER!).
  • Pace yourself! If you have a long driveway, or if there’s just too much snow, make sure to take some breaks. Shovel for 20 min, rest for 5 min.
  • Don’t twist and turn while shoveling/lifting
  • Lift with your legs, not your back! Pushing the snow is actually a very efficient/effective, and SAFE, way to shovel!

Try to follow these tips above throughout the winter to minimize your risk for injury. Because with black ice and slippery surfaces – falls increase during the winter and can be traumatic! Take your time (and budget more time) when traveling!

And if the inevitable happens and you do hurt yourself – email me at james_chen@notyouraveragephysio.com to book an evaluation and get yourself on the right track!

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