Snow Shoveling Without the Pain
Helpful tips on how to shovel without breaking your back.
With snow removal season almost upon us, it's important to remember that back injuries resulting from shoveling can be avoided. Dr. Leslie Quick of Quick Chiropractic and Associates offered some helpful advice for those who take on this household chore.
It is essential to warm up before you begin to shovel, she said, especially if you haven't exercised in a while. Walking and stretching for five to 10 minutes warms up unconditioned muscles and reduces the risk of back injury.
"Don't use your back to lift snow, because whenever you do that you put a lot more pressure on your back muscles and spine," she said.
Keep your knees bent while shoveling and use your legs to do the lifting. Try not to lift too much weight at once, especially if the snow is wet. Even better, forgo lifting altogether and push snow to the side instead. Do not use your back as the major lever.
Avoid doing quick rotations of the torso when shoveling. Keep what you're doing close to your body—lift, turn, and then remove snow.
"The twisting motion and using your back are really key ingredients to injuring yourself if you're not used to an exercise like that," Dr. Quick said.
Finally, don't forget to switch sides while you're shoveling and to take breaks once in a while.
Stretch again when you're done, as muscles could tighten afterward and cause an aching sensation.
Note that using a snow-blower will not necessarily prevent injury if done incorrectly. Use both hands to push the machine rather than trying to push with one side. It's also a good idea to warm up your muscles before and after use with the blower as well.