How to avoid lower back pain when shoveling snow

Winter season brings with it an extra chore for most of us-that is shoveling snow. It could be a good physical activity but you need to take few precautions to avoid lower back pain while shoveling.

A) Foremost is selection of good shoveling equipment

Nowadays, user friendly shovels with ergonomic designs are available. These shovels with curved handles or handles with adjustable lengths minimize the painful bending of you back and you can shovel with only a slight bending at your knees and back. Choose shovels with small plastic blades that are light weight to move.

B) Warm –Up before starting the activity

Doing any strenuous activity when your muscles are cold and strained can harm them. That is why warming-up is essential; same is true for shoveling snow. Do a few minutes warm–up before you take up the shoveling job. Start with a brisk walk or marching up and down the stairs for few minutes to increase your blood circulation. Following it do some stretches for your lower back and hamstrings (large group of muscles in the back of thigh). Cross your arms and hold yourself in a body hug for 1- 2 minutes to make your upper limb muscles flexible.

C) Use proper snow-lifting techniques ensuring your lower back safety

  • Push the snow to a side as much as possible rather than lifting the snow.
  • While grabbing the handle of the shovel ,keep your hands at least 12 inches apart for greater stability and reducing lower back strain
  • Make sure that you face the shovel when you are lifting it, your hips and shoulders should be inline in front of the shovel
  • Remember to bow at your hips and not your lower back. Your chest must be pointing forward, then bend your knees and lift the shovel using your leg muscles, while keeping your back straight
  • Try to pick loads that you can carry comfortably an if you have to lift a shovelful, with one hand, grip the shovel as close from the blade as possible and grab the handle from other hand
  • When shifting the snow to another location, always pivot your whole body towards the new direction and avoid mere twisting of the back
  • Do not extend your arms to throw the snow, keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body
  • Walk to the new location with the shovelful of snow and refrain from tossing or throwing snow from a distance

It’s better to remove small loads of snow frequently rather than removing large pile in a single stretched session. Use shoes or boots with proper treads to avoid slipping in the snow and hurting your back.