10 ways to shovel snow safely

shoveling-snow-106553822It won’t be long before snow starts piling up in your driveway and you break out the shovel sitting in the back of your garage. Keep in mind, shoveling snow can strain your back and shoulder muscles.

In 2009, about 16,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that occurred while shoveling snow or removing ice manually.

Use these strategies to protect yourself:

1. Before you begin, warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise. Take a walk or jog in place.

2. Start early. It’s easier to shovel fresh snow than packed, heavy snow.

3. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.

4. Try to push the snow instead of lifting it.

5. If you must lift the snow, squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs, not your back.

6. Lift small loads of snow rather than large ones. The heavier the load, the tougher it is on your back. Walk to where you want to dump it.

7. Make sure the handle on your shovel allows your back to be straight while you’re lifting it. A handle that’s too short will cause you to bend more while you shovel; one that’s too long will make the weight too heavy.

8. Don’t twist! Never throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. Step into the direction you’re throwing the snow.

9. Take frequent breaks. Stand up straight and walk around to extend your lower back.

10. Try this exercise to reverse the excessive forward bending that might strain your back: Stand up straight, place your hands toward the back of your hips and bend backward slightly for several seconds.

If you want to learn more about how physical therapy and acupuncture can help ease pain from shoveling snow, contact us here.

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