If you’re a Western New Yorker, you know about the struggles that come with shoveling. The snow comes down hard and fast, leaving our cars buried and driveways covered. While shoveling is a normal part of our lives as Buffalonians, many of us have never learned “the right way” to shovel. Combine poor body mechanics with inches of wet, heavy snow and we are setting ourselves up for injury.
In a sixteen year period, Watson et al found that almost 200,000 individuals were treated in US emergency departments from injuries obtained during shoveling. Of these individuals, 34.3% were found to have an injury to their low back (1). Many of us know that we should lift with our legs and not our spine. However, when the wind chill is zero, and you have been shoveling for thirty minutes, the awareness of proper body mechanics get tossed out the window. Suddenly, you are bending, twisting, and contorting your body in ways which place pressure on the muscles and discs in your low back.
Another commonly injured body part associated with shoveling is the shoulder. Many of us spend our days sitting at a desk and do very little lifting with our arms. Throwing heavy snow over your shoulder places excessive strain on some of the tissues surrounding the joint. How can we expect our shoulders and arms to lift pounds of heavy snow over multiple hours without creating a new ache or pain? The answer lies in proper lifting and body mechanics.
Since the snow isn’t stopping anytime soon, why not learn how to shovel correctly to save yourself from some of the injuries listed above? Watch this quick video below for three tips to make shoveling easier, as well as full guidance on proper shoveling body mechanics!
Watson D, et al. Snow shovel-related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US EDs, 1990 to 2006. Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Jan;29(1):11-7. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2009.07.003