5 Easy Steps to Injury Free Shoveling

by Dr. Michelle Collie, DPT, MS, OCS

Here we go again, winter is here and that means it’s time for some snow! I’m sure right about now a lot of you are missing the summer heat and those sunny days at the beach. Others are probably excited about skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and so much more, but don't forget that it’s also time to prepare for some shoveling.

Snow removal can be a pain, but that pain doesn’t have to sit in your lower back. To help avoid any back strains while shoveling this winter, check out these helpful tips on proper shoveling techniques and how to prevent injury’s this icy season.

Proper Equipment Snow shovels are made specifically for removing snow and have larger dimensions to help cover a larger area. It also comes with the proper handle for lifting the snow. Hold the handle at the top of the shovel and halfway down the shaft, that way you are distributing the weight evenly.

Proper Footwear Make sure you get yourself a pair of good sturdy boots. Sneakers are not made for the snow, and although Uggs, slippers, or any other type of fashion boot may keep your feet warm, they will not prevent you from falling. A nice pair of boots will have good traction to keep you on your feet.

Proper Form  1 foot in front of the other. Make sure you are using the proper stance. You want to make sure you have a wide stance, covering a large area. If not, you will be bending in all different directions and could end up pulling a muscle or straining your back. Hold your Stomach. By pulling your stomach muscles in, you are supporting your back and spine, therefore, preventing any lower back injuries. Bend those knees. Don’t bend with your back, that will cause an injury for sure. Instead, do all the bending with your knees and hips, and trust me your body will thank you. No Twisting. Pick up smaller piles and throw it out in front of you. This will help prevent injuries to your back and spine.

30 minutes There’s no reason to rush, instead, take your time and shovel in 30-minute intervals. Be sure to take long breaks where you warm up with some coffee or hot cocoa.

Don’t Push Yourself If you have suffered from a fall or injury recently don’t shovel your own snow. Your injury may be healed, or you may not think you’re at risk for falling again, but with the slippery surface and heavy snow, this is perfect weather to re-injure yourself and substantially increase your risk of falling. So, call a friend, neighbor, or even those kids down the block, who may want to make a few bucks, to come and help you out.

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