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 are shoveling in a way to hurt themselves. The combination of poor shoveling form with inches heavy snow is an injury waiting to happen.
In a sixteen year period, one study found that nearly 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 good form; however, when the wind chill is low and you “just want to get done,” it’s easy to rush the job — and cause a low back injury. Suddenly, you are bending, twisting, and contorting your body in ways which place damaging strain and pressure to the low back.
Here’s how to avoid hurting yourself when shoveling:
- Avoid excessive bending from your trunk. Bend your knees and lift from the legs.
- Toss the snow in front of you. Big twisting and throwing motions are a high risk for injury.
- If needed, break the job into two or three, allowing your muscles to recover between shoveling bouts.
- Keep a wide base of support with your legs. This should give your increased balance and strength.
Since the snow isn’t stopping anytime soon, it’s important to protect yourself every time you lace up your boots and grab your shovel.
Do your back, neck, or shoulders hurt when you shovel?
Join us for a free discovery visit with a Physical Therapist and learn why. You’ll also learn what you can do to get out of pain and get your life back.
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