Safe Snow Shoveling Tips

Don’t let this snow break your back!

As I drove around town today, I saw a virtual army of people out there digging out their cars, sidewalks, etc. Many were doing this in a safe manner, but I did see a few that were putting themselves at risk for injury (especially low back pain). Quite a bit of snow is on the ground, so it’s even more important than usual to be careful you don’t hurt yourself.

First, don’t feel like you have to get it all done at once. Go slow and steady or you’ll fatigue your muscles very quickly. Do not try to clear it to the ground in one scoop. Start with the top several inches and work your way down to the bottom.

Second, as your scooping the snow, try to drop it immediately in front of you versus to the side. This allows your spine to stay in a neutral position where it’s most stable. If you must move it to the side, be sure to turn with your feet and hip and not just the low back. Think of the way a baseball player or golfer swings. Upon completion of the swing, their hips and back are facing the same direction with very little twisting of the spine itself.

Third, try not to “throw” the snow if you can help it. The quick explosive movement needed to catapult the snow away from you causes increased pressure in the discs of your low back and can lead to injury. The more weight in the shovel, the higher this pressure can become. Work slow, steady, and smooth.

Finally, just like with any activity, make sure you are dressed properly (including sunscreen and sunglasses to deal with the glare), stay hydrated, and do not overexert yourself. Many of the deaths that occur due to these winter storms are from heart attacks. If you become light headed, experience chest pains, or otherwise start to feel very ill, get help immediately. Keeping a cell phone with you at all times can be very helpful should you find yourself in a difficult situation.

Following these simple tips will allow you to get the job done safely and reduce the risk of an injury that can stay with you beyond the time it takes all this snow to melt!

If you do find yourself with back pain from all the shoveling, and you’re in the Orwigsburg or surrounding areas of Schuylkill County, give me a call at 570-366-2613 and we’ll be happy to get you feeling good again. Check out my website for more information at Blue Mountain Family Chiropractic.

(Dr. Touchinsky is a chiropractor in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County . In addition to treating people for neck pain and back pain, he focuses on helping people overcome a variety of health issues through healthy lifestyle and nutritional counseling. If you have an issue you’d like help with or would like a second opinion, call the office at 570-366-2613 to set up an appointment.)

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