When the snow starts to accumulate and shoveling becomes a common household activity, injuries occur more frequently. Low back pain affects 70% of people at some time in their life, and can often be caused by unaccustomed strain or exertion like shoveling snow.
To avoid getting hurt while shoveling your sidewalk or driveway this winter, we have some simple tips for you to protect your body.
- Stretch before you shovel. Warming up your muscles by stretching before you go outside to shovel will help prevent injury and fatigue.
- Keep a wide base of support. The wider your base, the less strain you put on your back in trying to get low. Let your arms and legs do the work. Rely on your legs by keeping your back straight and engaging your shoulder muscles, pushing the snow instead of lifting by using your legs.
- Don’t try to be a hero! You don’t need to cover half the driveway in one shovel, take smaller shovel-fulls and work your way down. It will be easier on your body and it will take about the same amount of time. In addition, try to pace yourself and take breaks when you get tired. Don’t overwork yourself and be aware of your heart rate.
- Routinely switch sides back and forth. For every stroke you take on the right, swap it around and take a stroke on the left. But don’t twist and toss – twisting your back when handling heavy snow can lead to injury. Don’t forget the first tip: rely on your legs when possible.
- Keep the shovel close to your body as you work. The further the shovel is from your body, the heavier it will feel and the more strain it will put on your back.
- Have a plan. Try to get out and shovel every three inches or so to avoid the snow building up. Don’t forget to bundle up in warm layers and stay hydrated.
Watch this short video to see how Dan puts some of these tips into action while shoveling: