Protect Your Back While Shoveling Snow
Tips to Avoid Neck and Back Injury While Shoveling Snow This Winter:
- Pace yourself. Shovel for 5-10 minutes at a time, then rest to catch your breath and do a few stretches, holding each for a few seconds:
- Standing firmly on both feet, lean slightly back at the waist, then bend forward slightly, making your back into a small C shape.
- For your neck, look up and down slightly and then turn head slightly from side to side.
- For your shoulders: try squeezing your shoulder blades together and then round your shoulders forward, making another C shape with your back. Then do a few shoulder shrugs.
- Use a shovel with a long handle to give you more control and prevent you from leaning too far forward.
- Make sure to keep your body square to the shovel (your feet and shoulders should face the shovel).
- Keep your knees slightly bent and keep your back straight. Use your legs to push into the snow and only take small scoops.
- Once you have a shovelful, grasp the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as you can. Move your feet to face the area where you will put the snow.
- Make sure to stretch again and drink plenty of water.
- Soreness may develop, usually at its greatest 24-48 hours afterwards. Make sure to do some light exercise, which can help to reduce the severity of the soreness.
- Ice and pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen maybe helpful for a day or two afterwards.
Avoid Snow Shoveling If:
- You have had recent back or neck surgery or are under work restrictions.
- You are physically out of shape.
- You have health conditions such as angina, or other heart conditions.
This blog article was written by Twin Cities Physician Assistant Rebecca Pelkola