One of the more common causes of back injuries during the winter months is snow removal. Using the wrong body mechanics when shoveling snow can put undue stress on the lower back and leads to painful muscle strain or possibly more serious back injuries, such as a herniated disc or disc degeneration.
Pick the Right Shovel
An ergonomic snow shovel can help take some of the effort out of your snow removal chores. A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending, requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground.
Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity. Get your blood moving with a brisk walk, marching in place, or another full-body activity. Then, stretch your low back and hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) with some gentle stretching exercises.
Take A Break
Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than shoveling a large pile at once. If possible, removing snow over a period of days will lessen the strain on the back and arms. In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once. When shoveling, take a break if you feel overworked at any point. Use this opportunity to stretch your arms, shoulders, and back to keep them warm and flexible.
If you, a friend or family member experiences pain or injury, please contact us to schedule an appointment at 732-431-2155.