Top 10 Tips for Prevention of Snow Shovelling Injuries

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on December 16, 2012

Knowing the proper method for shovelling snow can help prevent lower back injuries.

Shovelling Snow Improperly Can Lead To Low Back Pain & Disc Injuries

Winter is a common season for low back pain to occur as the act of snow shovelling is a very physically demanding exercise that requires core stability, strength, flexibility, power, and endurance. Most people have not prepared their bodies during the summer and fall months to be ready for this high-intensity challenge. Shovelling snow properly requires you to focus on bending and lifting from your hips and not from your low back. When pushing and lifting the snow, it is imperative that you do not bend from your low back as this is the perfect way to cause a disc bulge or herniation.

Disc injuries occur when you flex and rotate your spine while lifting. Adding further injury to insult is the fact that the load/weight of the snow is far away from the spine. As well, it is imperative that you are in good cardiovascular health since snow shovelling is also taxing on your heart. The cold weather also predisposes your muscles to injury as they can become cold and tight as a result of the lack of circulation. Cold has been shown to reduce muscle strength and endurance, thus making exercise harder in the cold weather.

Follow These Tips To Prevent Back Pain Associated With Snow Shovelling Injuries

  1. Dress warmly.
  2. Warm up with some lunges, squats, and pushups to prepare your body.
  3. Make sure you have a quality shovel that you can handle.
  4. Lift with your hips and legs and not your lower back.
  5. Wear boots with adequate traction to prevent you from falling.
  6. Take breaks every 15-20 minutes to lunge and extend your spine.
  7. Do not overdo it – if you are feeling tired, stop and come back to it.
  8. Drink fluids to stay hydrated – while you are exercising.
  9. Stretch your low back, hips, and arms after your shovelling workout – holding each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  10. Take a hot shower or bath to relax your muscles following your workout and stretch.

Wear an ObusForme back belt to remind you to keep proper postural alignment and your core tight while snow shovelling. This will limit your bending from your back and remind you to use your hips. Following these tips can help keep your back safe and healthy during the snowy season.