5 Tips for Preventing Back Pain While Shoveling

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: December 22, 2015

shoveling back pain

Winter is here, and that means it will soon be time to bust out your shovel and snowblower to keep your sidewalk and driveway clear. In fact, some of you have probably already had to shovel your walk. Clearing snow is essential during the Minnesota winters, but it can be problematic if you have to compensate for back pain. Today, we’re going to share some tips to keep your spine pain-free while you’re shoveling this winter.

1. Invest in a Good Shovel

Spend a little extra money on a nice long shovel to reduce the amount of bending and hunching you need to do. Some shovels come with an adjustable handle so everyone in the family can find the proper length. If you have a short shovel, you’ll be putting a lot of extra stress on your back.

2. Plastic over Metal

Metal shovels seem to be less popular these days, but a durable plastic shovel should be your preferred option. Snow is heavy with adding extra pounds because of the added weight of the metal. Extra pounds will only make it more difficult on your body to move the snow.

3. Warm Up

If your muscles aren’t ready for activity, they’ll be more prone to injury. Before you head outside, take five minutes to stretch your arms, back and legs. Not only will this help prepare your muscles for the upcoming workout, but it will also get your blood flowing. Focus on certain areas of your back if you know they are prone to spasms or pain.

4. Smart Lifting

This wouldn’t be a complete list if we didn’t talk about proper lifting techniques. Always try to push the snow to your destination before lifting. Push the snow to the side of your driveway, then do a small scoop to clear it over any built up snow on the edge. Bend your knees, face towards where you want to scoop and keep loads light. Lifting heavy loads without the support of your knees is the quickest way to injure your back. Finally, pace yourself and stop shoveling immediately if you feel discomfort or pain.

5. Grab a Snowblower

A snowblower can help clear fallen snow without the repetitive strain of a shovel. For light snowfalls, a shovel might be your best option, but if you get more than a couple of inches, fire up the snowblower. If you know you deal with regular back pain and a snowblower is your only option, make sure you get one with an electric start so you don’t have to pull hard on the starter cord.

In the end, if you are dealing with pain or discomfort while breathing, and it’s not making it difficult to breath, consider taking it easy for a few days. If pain still exists, contact a back specialist in your area.

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