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Snow Shoveling Safety: Avoid Back Strain This Winter

A little exercise never hurt anyone, but a little snow shoveling the wrong way and you could end up with some serious back strain.  Snow shoveling safety isn’t a joke, especially for people who already suffer from back pain and are looking to prevent neck pain and further back injuries. So, if you are someone suffering from back, neck or any type of injury, pay heed to this tips for some good back injury prevention while you’re shoveling away storm after storm, keep these tips in mind.

Prevent Neck Pain & Back Injuries With These Easy Tips

Unless you’re lucky to live in warm temps, most of us will be getting hit with the “white stuff” this winter. So, whether you’re stuck with ten inches of powdery snow or a slushy six inches, keep a few things in mind for back injury prevention.

  1. Buy a Good Shovel

A client of ours was using a travel-sized shovel to dig herself out at home…but this shovel was meant for travel emergencies, like getting snowed in the work parking lot. It was no surprise when, after trying to use that small shovel to bury out her car and driveway at home, she came in with back strain.

Pick a shovel that works with your height and weight. What works for a six-foot tall male will not work for a five-foot tall female, even if she’s a bodybuilder! Test it out a little before you purchase. You don’t want to buy a shovel that makes you hunch over excessively. That’s a recipe for back disaster.

Buy a decent sized shovel—and keep a small one in the car for emergencies, too.

  2. Stretch & Exercise Year Round

For good back health and to prevent the neck pain most of us have due to our computer and tech use, you should stretch each day to help with flexibility, reduce injury, and avoid pain. But you should especially warm up before grabbing a shovel and heading out to dig out a storm. You don’t even realize how much of a workout shoveling is until you’re done. From your shoulders to your legs, your body is working!

So, stretch first and break up the job into increments if you’re dealing with a significant amount of snow.

And this goes without saying: a regular exercise routine is good for your back, core, and every part of your body. Life is tiring. If you do nothing, your body will be even more tired. Stick to something that works for you, whether it’s weekly or daily yoga, dance, weight lifting, a recreation basketball league, etc.

  3. Alternate Sides to Give Your Body a Break

Obviously if you’re a lefty, you’ll start shoveling on that side, but you need to use both sides of your body to:

  • Prevent injuries and exhaustion

  • Strengthen both sides of the body

  4. Use Those Legs!

Don’t lift using your back muscles. Lift using your legs, by:

  • Bend your knees and lift with your legs

  • Keep back straight and aligned with your spine

  • Feet should be hip-width apart

And lastly? Be sure to twist your whole body as you’re shoveling, and not just your torso. Shoveling isn’t fun but it can be a whole lot less painful if you’re smart with these tips!

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