Shoveling Snow: Use your buttocks not your back

shoveling-snowIt’s that time of year again when the weather begins to turn for the worst and snow begins to fall. Fortunately, we have not had too much snow thus far but for all you Game of Thrones fans out there, “winter is coming”. How much snow is coming is something for the meteorologists to debate but for many of us it means shoveling snow. Whether it is the back patio, the porch, or possibly your whole driveway, shoveling snow is a repetitive and strenuous activity for everyone and it is paramount that it is done correctly.

Besides all of the environmental factors that usually accompany shoveling snow such as windburn faces, frozen toes, and icy sidewalks, there is the physical part that can be very demanding on our bodies. Any repetitive bending and lifting activity can put stress on our low backs and potentially cause a new injury or flare up an older one. At physical therapy, you can learn to protect your body from injury when braving the snowstorms of this winter.

Technique is everything when it comes to lifting activities. The way in which we use our bodies will affect what muscles or body parts get stressed. You often will hear me say in the clinic “use your butt”. That is because the gluteal muscles near the back of your hip play a significant role in activities such as shoveling. Sometimes, there can be an underlying weakness in these muscles that you might not even be aware of. A skilled physical therapist can help you not only activate your gluteal muscles but teach you how to use them when lifting. When it comes to snow, you can’t control how much or when it will come but you certainly can control how you shovel that snow when it does come.

Posted in: Low Back, Medical Education

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