Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Let's face it, shoveling sucks. Not only does it always take longer than expected, but it gives the face a nice burn, reminds you of how lazy your kids are, and your neighbors are quietly judging you about how long you let the snow sit on the driveway. MOST IMPORTANTLY...it can cause Chronic Back Pain!
Let's look at 7 tips you can use to avoid a back issue:
1.) Warm up! This is true for all activities. You used to warm up before high school sports when you were young and in shape, so why wouldn't you warm up now that you're older and work a 9-5? It's simple, the more you warm up, the more flexible your body is and the more activated your muscles are, thus you are less likely to injure yourself.
Try 3 sets of 10 reps for each of these exercises immediately before shoveling:
Wall Angels: Move arms and down while keeping your back up straight against wall
Squats in Place: Squat up and down with correct form.
2.) Back Bends Exercise! These help reverse the excessive forward bending and potential injury (herniated disc) that can occur while shoveling; stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backward 10x before, during and after a shoveling session.
3.) Choose the proper shovel (with a curved handle)... Why?
-Too much forward flexion (bending) at the lower back is what puts us at risk for disc bulges and herniations. If you buy a shovel with a curved handle, the shovel has done 1/2 the bending for you!
-Use a lighter shovel (plastic, NOT metal).
-Get a smaller size shovel, this will force you to take smaller scoops, thus less pressure on the back.
4.) Lift Properly! Grasp the shovel with hands at least 12 inches apart. Stand in a lunge stance with legs apart, hips & knees bent and your back straight. As they say, Lift With Your Legs, NEVER at the waist. Once you pick up the snow, avoid twisting, instead try to move your feet.
5.) Rest every 15 minutes! Imagine shoveling were a sport, you need to rest between each quarter. This keeps you fresh... or less likely to get tired and shovel with bad form causing injury.
6.) Wet Snow? Lift Less! Be aware of heavy wet snow. Pick up less of it at a time, it’s a real back destroyer!
7.) Never throw snow over your shoulder. Sure it’s fun and kind of cool looking, but instead, just turn and toss it (or walk it) responsibly to the correct-place... in order to keep your back in-place.
1.) Save Up for a snowblower (your back is more importance than that flat screen TV you want).
2.) Hire a younger stronger version of yourself to do your shoveling for you. While you enjoy hot coco and a good back!
In the Event of Injury
1.) Stop shoveling immediately.
2.) Apply a cold pack as soon as possibly for up to 20 minutes. Keep icing as much as every hour for 2-3 days.
If you are already experiencing Back Pain, try one of our FREE Guides for Tips on Quick Pain Relief: