Guidelines for Snow Shoveling

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By Dr. Kevin Bloom
Published on February 24, 2013
Snow Shoveling Guidelines

Snow Shoveling Guidelines

Snow shoveling can often result in symptoms, most commonly lower back symptoms.  As a result, the following guidelines should be followed in order to try to prevent snow shoveling injuries:

  • Perform gentle warm-up exercises before beginning.  For example, while standing upright, slide your right arm down the outside of your right leg to the right knee.  Hold for five seconds.  If you cannot go this far, then just go as far as you can.  Do the same movements on your left side.  Perform these movements multiple times.  Another possible exercise would be to go for a short walk.
  • Purchase/Use a lightweight ergonomically-designed push-style shovel.
  • It is less strenuous on your body if you push the snow instead of lifting it.  Walk with the shovel in a forward manner with an erect posture while trying to minimize forward bending/leaning and twisting.
  • If lifting is in fact necessary, keep your back straight and lift with your legs.  Try to avoid twisting.
  • It is less strenuous if you put less snow on the shovel each time.
  • Pace yourself.  It is better to shovel smaller amounts of snow multiple times in one day than shovel lots of snow one time when the snowfall has ended.
  • If you become sore, discontinue shoveling and apply ice over the affected region for 10 minutes 3-4 times per day.  If the ice pack is too cold, wrap it in a paper towel or a t-shirt.  If symptoms increase, discontinue use of the ice pack.

If you are a senior and/or have health/medical problems, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor first concerning snow shoveling and your health status.  In these cases, it might be wise to hire either a snow shoveling service or volunteer service.