When the sidewalks and driveways are blanketed in a thick layer of snow, the dreaded chore of shoveling becomes a reality. Before bracing for the cold weather, make sure you are prepared for the dangers that can come from shoveling snow.

Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that places significant strain on the back and shoulder muscles if not done correctly. Following these tips may help you avoid shoveling related injuries:

  • Keep up with the snowfall. It is easier to shovel when the snow has recently fallen. The longer it sits, the heavier the load becomes. 
  • Think ahead. Does the sidewalk or driveway need to be salted to prevent slipping? Do you have proper footwear with good traction?
  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Rest your back by standing up and walking around. This is a great time to stretch and grab some water. 
  • Lift with your legs. Bend your knees and keep your back straight to avoid putting too much strain on your lower pack. Your power should be coming from your legs. 
  • Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than large shovelfuls. 
  • Rather than throwing the snow in a pile, push the snow or walk the snow towards the pile. This will prevent your lower back from twisting as much.
  • Choose your shovel wisely. A shovel with a short shaft requires more bending of the back and lifting with your shoulders and arms, but a shovel with a shaft that is too long will bend under the pressure of the snow.

If you or someone you know is experiencing lower back or shoulder pain, please contact one of our experienced Physical Therapists. We can get you back to your life with less pain.