Here at PASS, it’s common for patients to come seeking pain relief and help after major snow storms. Why? Because so many of us don’t know how to shovel snow without hurting ourselves. So save a trip to the clinic and follow these tips for avoiding injury while shoveling.
Buy the right shovel
The easiest way to avoid shoveling injuries is to avoid shoveling all together. Depending on your driveway and walkway lengths, it may make sense to buy a snow blower or even a snow blower attachment for a riding mower. But if for whatever reason that’s not possible, it’s essential to get a shovel that makes it easier to move snow. Long gone are the days where a snow shovel was basically a long stick with a wide, curved shovel mouth at the end. You can still get those, and usually cheaply. But ask yourself: Is avoiding back pain worth the few dollars you save by getting a less ergonomically designed snow shovel? The answer is probably no.
Today, there are a variety of new designs that make the task far easier to do and that put far less stress on the back. These new styles either help you push snow, avoiding lifting, or help you pick up snow without having to bend over. We recommend looking for these styles when shopping. Also, try to get as light-weight a shovel as possible to avoid having to lift extra weight when moving around snow.
We think of snow shoveling as a chore, but it’s also a great form of exercise when done right. It gets our blood pumping and can be a decent cardio workout. And, as you would with any workout, try to warm up first. Do some jumping jacks and stretches before heading outdoors. A limber body will reduce the risk of injury.
Bend at the knees!
We’ve all probably heard this plenty of times, but it bears repeating: When you lift heavy objects, bend at the knees! The same holds true for shoveling snow. Instead of lifting the snow, however, try to push it out of the way. But if you have to lift, use your legs and not your back as much as possible.
No need to overexert and stress the body. Be sure to take breaks and hydrate every 20 minutes or so. The snow isn’t going anywhere. Slow and steady wins the race.