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Tips for Avoiding Back Pain When Shovelling Snow

I love winter! The snow in the air, on the ground and trees makes for a beautiful winter wonderland. A snowy winter can be a lot of fun when you’re dressed warmly and being active. The downside of all the beautiful snow is shovelling.

These tips will help prevent lower back injury while shovelling.

  • Don’t let the snow pile up. If you have to shovel, go out a few times to make the lifting lighter.

  • Always warm up before shovelling. Stretching your lower back, legs, arms and shoulder muscles will increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare them for the workout. Five to ten minutes of walking or marching on the spot will also help prepare the body for shovelling.

  • Dress for the weather. Wear warm layers that are loose fitting that can be removed as you get warm. Wear warm boots with good treads to minimize slipping.

  • Use a light and ergonomically designed shovel. This will help to decrease bending and twisting that could aggravate your back. These shovels also help keep your back straighter and decrease stress on the spine.

  • Use a shovel with a smaller blade to decrease load weight or, alternatively, partially fill the shovel if you have to lift the snow.

  • Keep the load close to your body by gripping the shovel closer to the blade. This helps reduce the strain on your arms, shoulders and back.

  • Maintain a straight back, tighten your core muscles, bend your knees and lift with your legs. Feet should be shoulder width apart with one foot forward. Move your feet to avoid twisting your back when throwing the snow.

  • When possible, push the snow, don’t throw it.

  • Take your time and take breaks every 15 minutes.

  • Make sure to keep hydrated by drinking water.

Stop shovelling if you have any signs of pain, especially shortness of breath or chest pain. If these symptoms persist, seek immediate medical attention.

Afterwards, go inside, warm up, hydrate and stretch.

Enjoy the winter and stay safe!

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