Ways to Avoid Back Pain While Shoveling Snow
By Rachel Carver
The cold weather has arrived. The chill in the air brings snow. Though it may be pretty to look at, snow needs to be removed from driveways, steps, and other high-traffic areas.
As we age, it can be easy to strain our bodies with necessary tasks such as shoveling snow. Find some tips below to avoid back pain and injuries during snow removal.
Strengthen Your Back
Strengthening exercises apply for overall back health but can save you some pain when you pick up the snow shovel. Planks can tone your core and make motions like scooping easier. Work your glutes and hamstrings and strengthen your lower back with superman exercises. Avoid sit-ups and deadlifts because they can cause unnecessary stress on your lower back. Find exercises to do at home to improve your overall muscle strength.
View snow shoveling as a workout. You would not start a run without stretching first. Take a brisk walk or run in place to get your blood moving. Loosen your lower back and hamstrings with some gentle stretches.
Select the Right Snow Shovel
Invest in an ergonomic shovel to make scooping snow easier. A curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending. A lightweight plastic blade reduces the amount of snow you move with each scoop.
If you need to bend while shoveling, bend your knees and keep your lower back straight. Make sure the handle of your shovel is above your waist when it is upright. Lift the snow with your legs. This sounds weird, but the shovel should be used to push the snow. Use ergonomic lifting techniques.
- Your shoulders and hips should face the object you want to lift
- Bend your hips -- not your lower back -- and push your chest out, pointing forward
- Bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight
- Stick with light loads; do not lift something too heavy
- Walk to the new location to deposit the snow instead of reaching for it
Listen to your body. Don't ignore heavy breathing or tiredness. Scooping snow in cold weather actually takes a lot of energy. Rest when you need to, and drink water to stay hydrated.
If you do strain your back scooping snow, put down your shovel and head to The Joint Chiropractic clinic near you. Back pain will limit your daily activities, not to mention stop you from moving your snow.
To learn more about managing back pain, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chicago, Ill.