Avoiding a Winter Back Injury

One of the most common causes of back injuries during the winter month is snow shoveling. If you have knowledge of the best ways to remove snow without straining the back, this type of injury is preventable.

Choose the right snow shovel. What helps take some of the efforts out of the dreaded snow removal chores is an ergonomic snow shovel. Requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground is a shovel that will minimize painful bending with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length. To help reduce the amount of weight that you are moving, choose a small lightweight plastic blade.

Thoroughly warm up: Those who are less prone to injury have warmed up flexible muscles as opposed to cold, tight muscles. For about for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity, do your back a favor. With a brisk walk, marching in place, or another full-body activity, get your blood flowing. Next, with some gentle stretching exercises stretch your hamstrings and lower back. Finally, for 30-60 seconds limber up your arms and shoulders.

Rather than lifting it, whenever possible push the snow to one side. When you are shoveling, make sure you are directly facing the object that you plan to lift. Do not bend at the lower back; bend at the hips, and push your chest forward and out. Keep your back straight, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles. Do not lift an object that is too heavy for you, and keep your loads light. Minimizing the chances of injuring your lower back, keep your hands about 12 inches apart to provide greater stability when gripping the shovel.

Instead of shoveling a large pile at once, shovel small amounts of snow because it is less strenuous. Rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once, in deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time.  Every 10-15 minutes take a break when shoveling. To keep your muscles warm and flexible, use this opportunity to stretch your arms, shoulders, and back.



Did you know that you do not need a referral for physical therapy? For more information call Park Physical Therapy and The Physical Therapy Alliance at (516) 568-4444 with locations in Massapequa, Valley Stream, Wantagh, and Lindenhurst.