Q: How Can I Avoid Hurting My Back While Shoveling Snow?
A: Ahh, who doesn’t love a good coating of fresh, powdery snow? Majestic, calming, picturesque, I can keep going if you’d like. However, I know that many people don’t share my affinity for winter weather. One thing we can agree on though, is how much of a pain snow can be when it comes to your daily commute, starting with getting it off of your driveway! Just like we all knew it would, the first snow of the season has come. While it may have taken some by surprise, it certainly wasn't enough to cause an uproar (or any shoveling injuries for that matter). With more winter storms forecasted to powder coat our streets and walkways, it's NJ Spine and Wellness' job to equip you with knowledge on how to stay injury free while removing snow from around your house. We’ve compiled a list of our best snow shoveling tips to keep you safe from injury this winter season.
1. Feeling pain? Hang up the shovel. If you are experiencing any pain or stiffness
at all, don't even think about picking that shovel up! Pain is your body's signal
that something is wrong; just the smallest mishap can leave you with some
2. Buy an ergonomic shovel. A full shovel can weigh between 15 and 25 pounds
depending on how wet the snow is. The ergonomic, bent-handle shovel can
give you more leverage and allow you to move the snow with better
3. Push, don't lift the snow. Avoiding the lifting component of snow removal
greatly reduces the risk of injuring yourself. Use your legs to push the shovel
and move the snow out of the way. NEVER throw the snow over your shoulder.
A loaded rotational stress to your spine is a textbook disc injury.
4. If you must lift, think big. No, I don't mean lift as much snow as you can. Think
big, as in using your big muscles (legs and core) to lift the snow. The American
Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests shoveling 1-2 inches at a time,
separating your hands by 12 inches to increase leverage, and bending at the
knees to lift upwards. Never bend at the waist, lift using just your arms, or lift
while reaching as it will put far too much stress on your spine.
5. Warm up. Not just with hot chocolate and a heavy jacket, warm up your
muscles! Cold muscles do not function with the same efficiency as those that
are warmed up. Getting your blood flowing also decreases your risk of straining
a muscle or spraining a joint.
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