BodyMend Wellness Clinic

Are You Shoveling Snow Safely? These 6 Tips Can Help Prevent Back Injury this Winter

By Dr. Sherry Carlton, B.Sc., D.C.

Shoveling Snow SafelyWinter season brings not only the beautiful snow, but also the pain of clearing the driveway and sidewalks! When you think about the fact that a shovel full of snow weighs anywhere from 5-7 pounds, it quickly adds up to far more weight than you would expect.

For those that do not own a snow plow and are responsible for this essential winter duty, I would like to provide you with some helpful tips to protect your back from injury this season.

1. Don’t Let the Snow Pile Up

Frequent shoveling will help to reduce the amount of snow that needs to be removed. Pay attention to the weather reports so that you can prepare a shoveling schedule; this will allow smaller loads at one time.

2. Choose the Right Shovel

A lightweight pusher-type shovel is ideal. If you own a metal shovel, it may be beneficial to spray it with Teflon as this will allow the snow to slide off the shovel easily.

3. Don’t Throw! Push Instead.

It is easier on your back and shoulders to push the snow to the sides rather than throwing it onto a pile. Avoid heavy lifting and sudden twisting or pivoting movements, and you’ll get through the driveway with ease.

4. Bend Your Knees

In the event that you do have to lift the snow, ensure that you are bending at the knees to alleviate the strain on the back muscles and joints. Trying to keep your back in neutral position, and using your arm and leg muscles to do most of the lifting is the safest way to go.

****WARM UP EVERY 10-15 MINUTES**** 

5. Take Breaks

If you feel tired, out of breath, or if you are experiencing acute chest pain or back pain, do not ignore it. Take some time to regain your strength and ensure that you stop shoveling immediately.

If the muscle or joint pain persists after the day of shoveling, you should seek chiropractic care or physiotherapy. If the chest pain becomes severe, please see your medical doctor as soon as possible.

6. Dress Warmly and Stay Hydrated

Layering your clothing, ensuring that your head, neck, ears, and hands are properly protected from the bitter cold is essential to get the job done comfortably.

Drink lots of water or juice to keep your fluids up; don’t ignore your thirst in the cold, and consider finishing off the shoveling with a warm beverage to bring your core temperature back to normal.

>> If you are experiencing back pain or you have sustained a back injury (from shoveling, or anything else!), chiropractic care and physiotherapy can significantly enhance your recovery. Contact BodyMend today to book an appointment, and let us mend you back to better health.