Snow shoveling is often followed by back pain, but the former doesn’t have to automatically imply the latter. There are preventative measures you can take when snow shoveling to avoid back pain and enjoy a pain-free winter season.
Snow shoveling is a very physical and strenuous activity. If done incorrectly, it can lead to injuries and back pain. Common snow shoveling injuries include overworking of the muscles, falling, hitting yourself with the shovel, straining muscles and ligaments, breaking bones, and experiencing heart- problems. (In fact, seven percent of snow shoveling injuries are heart related.)
Below you will find some helpful tips to reduce your risk of injury while shoveling snow and to prevent back pain.
Snow shoveling can be a pain – literally – if not done properly. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Abboud said, “Individuals tend to haste through snow shoveling to avoid being outside in the cold for long periods of time. Unfortunately, rushing through this task can lead to injuries. It should always be done at a slow and steady pace because of the energy and focus that’s required. Always check with your doctor before shoveling snow and consider hiring someone to do it for you if you’re unable to.”
In 2014, over 203,000 Americans were treated for injuries related to shoveling snow the old-fashioned way, and over 27,000 were treated for injuries related to snow blowers or snow throwers.
The good news is, experts have shared some useful tips to prevent injuries associated with snow removal. For starters, they advise pushing the snow instead of trying to lift it. If you must lift it, do so with your legs and don’t bend at the waist. Don’t throw snow over your shoulder or off to the side – instead walk to where you’re piling up the snow.
When out shovelling the snow, don’t forget to take breaks. Stay hydrated and if you experience any signs of injury or illness, such as shortness of breath or chest pains, stop what you’re doing and seek medical attention.
Other things to keep in mind include using the right snow shovel, warming up thoroughly, using ergonomic lifting techniques, pacing yourself, and keeping your feet on the group. If shovelling is too difficult you may consider using a snow blower, but there are safety precautions associated with these devices, too.
Even if you’re using a snow blower, you should still proceed with caution. Always read the instructions and never leave it running when you step away. If it gets jammed, try shutting it off for a bit and then restart – never try to clear a jam while it’s running.
The gear you’re wearing is also very important, as staying warm makes a big difference when out in the cold weather. It is recommended to wear several layers. Additionally, it is recommended to wear snow boots with grip.
Follow the above tips when clearing the snow in order to prevent injury. Have a safe winter!