Love it or hate it; snow is part of life in Iowa. Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the mechanics of moving snow off driveways and sidewalks. But we should…. because shoveling snow is one of the most common causes of back injuries during winter months. So what should you do? Follow these tips to avoid injuring your back.
Shoveling is a work out so you need to warm up those muscles and stretch, just like you do before exercise. Especially if you have had soreness or a prior injury, remember to stretch your low back and hamstrings. If you wake in the morning to a fresh layer of snow, take a little time to wake up and move a bit before going out to clear it.
Pick the Right Snow Shovel
A curved handle or adjustable handle will enable you to bend at the knees to keep the blade on the ground. Additionally, a smaller shovel will help reduce the amount of snow you lift at one time.
Push vs. Lift
If possible, push snow to the side instead of lifting it to reduce strain on your spine. If you do lift snow, ensure you are facing the direction you need to move it with shoulders and hips square. Avoid twisting- always pivot your whole body. Bend at your hips or knees, instead of your back. Never throw snow over your shoulder.
Shoveling smaller amounts of snow over a longer period of time is safer than trying to shovel a large pile all at once. Remember that wet snow is very heavy. Take breaks every 10-15 minutes and stand up and stretch.
Slipping is another common cause of injury during freezing temperatures. Remember to use footwear with good tread to minimize your likelihood of slipping. Spreading kitty litter, gravel or salt on your walk can increase traction, too. It is common to slip getting in and out of a car so spread some around where you normally park at work or home.
As with any physical activity, if you experience pain, stop what you are doing. Schedule an appointment with your chiropractor, who has specialized training in musculoskeletal issues. Don’t have a chiropractor? Nelson Chiropractic would love to help you! Call 563-359-9541.