8 Shoveling Techniques to Save Your Back This Winter Season
Winter is here! The Mainway Team have put together some techniques to help keep you pain free while shoveling during winter!
Shoveling can be one of the main causes of back injuries during the winter months. Back injuries can be prevented with proper shoveling techniques. Thanks to the Mainway Team here are tips to follow to avoid lower back injuries this winter!
Warm up your muscles thoroughly before getting out there.
Tight muscles that are not properly warmed up are prone to more injuries. It is suggested that a 5-10 minute warm up before strenuous work can save your body from potential pain and injury.
Some ways to get your body warmed up are:
- March in place raising your knees up, a quick gentle yoga stretch session, or take a brisk walk around the block to get your blood moving.
- Stretch your lower back and hamstrings (the large muscles on the back of the thigh) with some gentle stretching.
- Do some gentle lunges to get your muscles warm. Making sure to keep your knees in line with your feet. Limit twisting!
- Warm up your arms and shoulders by doing arm circles forward and back.
Keeping your core muscles strong can help withstand the strains of winter shoveling. By having strong core muscles it can help protect, support, and stabilize your spine.
Pick the right shovel - Good Equipment is Key.
Before getting out there, picking the right shovel could save you from future injuries.
There are many ergonomic shovels that can help prevent back injuries.
- A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle can minimize painful unnecessary bending. These shovels will require you to bend your knees while, at the same time keeping the shovel blade parallel to the ground.
- Consider the weight of the shovel before buying. A lightweight shovel with a plastic blade can help reduce the amount of weight you are pushing.
- A back support belt may also be helpful in reducing stress on your back.
Use proper ergonomic lifting techniques to maintain good shoveling posture.
Push the snow instead of lifting it, especially if it is heavy wet snow. Lifting can pose a risk for neck and lower back injuries.
Here are some lifting techniques:
- Face toward the object you intend to lift - hips and shoulders should be square to the object.
- Bend at the hips, not at the lower back, push with your chest facing forward. Bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, making sure to keep your back straight.
- Lighten the load and don’t lift something that’s too heavy for you.
- If you have to lift the shovel when it is full, grip close to the blade with the other hand on the handle. When gripping the shovel keep your hands roughly 12-15 inches apart to provide proper stability and minimize lower back injury. Remember to lift with your legs not with your lower back or shoulders.
- Avoid twisting your body or using awkward motions. Pivot your whole body (feet to head) to move the snow in a new direction. Keep your spine in line. Repetitive twisting can hurt your body.
Go slow, pacing yourself is important - breaks can save you in the long run.
Shoveling small amounts frequently is less strenuous than shoveling a large pile at once. It may take you longer but it is important to pace yourself rather than rushing, which can hurt your back in the process. Some people can attest to the saying, “What you save in time you gain in pain.” This is true, go slow and pace yourself accordingly to the task at hand.
- If the snow is deep remove a few inches off the top at a time. Don’t go the whole depth if is deep.
- Take short breaks every 10-15 minutes. On your break stretch your arms, shoulders and back to keep them warm.
Always have your feet on the ground.
Ice may be under the snow and if you're not careful, slips and falls can cause soft tissue injuries or fractures.
- Invest in good boots with a thick tread to increase traction and reduce your likelihood of falling on ice or slippery snow.
Use a snow blower instead.
A snow blower can make clearing snow both faster and easier on your body. Avoid putting any stress on your back by using your legs to push the snow blower while keeping your back straight and knees bent.
Get help from family, friends or volunteers.
Many hands make light work! Make sure to show them the proper techniques to shoveling before you start!
Hydrate after you are finished.
Hydration is the key to keeping your muscles at their best. You’ve probably worked up a sweat so it is important to keep yourself hydrated. This helps your muscles and joints get the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need to heal and repair.
It also helps ward off stiffness and soreness.
Break bad habits by utilizing these proper shoveling techniques so you can save your back this winter!
Thanks to Mainway Physiotherapy they’ve got your back!
Mainway Physiotherapy specializes in the following treatments:
* Sport Injury Therapy
* Registered Massage Therapy
* Motor Vehicle Accident Rehabilitation (MVA)
* Work Injury (WSIB)
* Golf Injury Rehabilitation
* Individualized or Team Exercise Programs
* Work site ergonomic education
* Concussion Treatment
* Functional Movement Screening
* Dietary Restrictions
* Chiropractic Care
Please check out our redesigned website for more information!
To get in touch with Mainway Physiotherapy:
3532 Mainway Burlington, ON L7M 1A8
Phone: (905) 332 - 3800