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10 Tips on How to Avoid Snow Shoveling-Related Back Pain

Maybe we will get lucky this winter and not have to worry about shoveling inches (or feet) of snow. We can cross our fingers all we want but at some point this winter, we will most likely have to dig out the snow shovels from the garage. Shoveling snow is a common catalyst for back pain. It's cold and frankly, we just don't want to do it. This leads to rushing through the process while sacrificing proper ergonomics. Here are some tips on how to avoid getting hurt.


1. Bending at the waist already puts our spine in a compromised position. Add the weight of snow on the shovel while trying to toss it over our shoulder and you have a recipe for back pain disaster.

2. Next time you have to clear the driveway or sidewalk, remember to keep your back straight, hold the shovel close to your body and lift with your knees. Keep your abdominal muscles tight to support your core and lower back. Avoid twisting at your waist to throw the snow and only move small amounts at a time.

3. Keep up with snow as it comes down... this makes it lighter and easier to clear.

5. Unless it is necessary, avoid shoveling in the morning. Experts agree that more spinal disc injuries occur in the morning when there is increased fluid pressure in the discs due to the body being at rest all night.

6. Stretch before you start, stay hydrated and rest frequently.

7. Old metal shovels with a straight shaft are stiff, heavy and uncomfortable. Most hardware and home improvement stores now sell snow shovels that are easier to use.

8. Watch out for ice patches and uneven surfaces. Wear slip resistant boots or shoes to prevent slips and falls. Dress in layers to help keep your muscles warm and avoid muscle strains.

9. Avoid caffeine or smoking beforehand. Shoveling snow adds stress on the heart - the cold already stresses the body by constricting the blood vessels, add a strenuous activity like shoveling snow and our heart is pounding and blood pressure is rising.

10. If your back is feeling sore after shoveling, you can use ice. If the discomfort continues, give us a call to get in for an adjustment.

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