Home > Pain Prevention > Let It Snow: Preventing Back Pain While You Shovel

Let It Snow: Preventing Back Pain While You Shovel

shoveling snow properly

Shoveling snow with good form can prevent back pain.

Hey, it’s Dr. Shoshany again. There’s a snowstorm brewing! After this past weekend’s failed snow, it seemed a good idea to re-release this blog entry. We are apparently in for as much as two feet!

Any time it snows hard, I end up seeing patients who hurt their backs as they clear their walk, stairs and the like here at Living Well Medical in NYC.

Not everyone has to worry about the snow in NYC, of course. Some of us have property managers and supers who take care of it, but just as many still shovel their own snow. Biomechanically correct form can do a lot to prevent hurting your back during cleanup, so it seemed like a good idea to leave a couple of pointers on the off chance the news meteorologists are on the money.

First off, have the right equipment on hand. If you have an older shovel, chances are it’s made of metal and heavy. Newer shovels often are plastic with metal blades at the end, so they can still do the job without so much weight. Also, a shovel with an adjustable length handle can make for more leverage and less reliance on back muscles. Some shovels even have a bend that allows you to do more with less back bending. Check out your local hardware store and see what they have.

Next, use proper form when shoveling. Stand in a natural positions. Hold the shovel close to the body. Bend at the knee and lift using your legs. Tighten your abs while lifting whenever possible; the core muscles being activated can reduce the burden of the lower back muscles. Also, throw the snow in front of you, not twisting to the sides.

Most importantly, listen to what your body tells you. Take a break when you need to. Drink fluids regularly to stay hydrated but not drink sugary drinks or caffeinated drinks. They make you lose water faster.

You can also ease into the work by keeping pace with the snow instead of waiting until it has stopped falling.

In the event you do hurt your back, give us a call at Living Well Medical in NYC212-645-8151. We can help you stop the pain. And hopefully you won’t need to shovel anymore this season!

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