Snow shoveling safety: lift light, shovel right
Winter has arrived, and with it comes frequent snowfalls. A shovelful of snow can weigh 5-7 pounds. Imagine the weight you have to lift to clear your sidewalk or driveway. The following tips can help keep your back healthy this winter.
- Don’t let the snow pile up. If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling allows you to move smaller amounts of snow at a time.
- Pick the right shovel. Use the lightweight pusher-type shovel. If you are using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first so snow does not stick to it.
- Push, don’t throw. Always push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. This allows you to avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow and sudden twisting or turning movements.
- Bend your knees. If you find you have to lift a shovelful of snow, use your knees and your leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.
- Warm up. Before tackling any strenuous activity take the time to do warm up with some overall conditioning—such as 10 to 15 minutes of walking—followed by some simple stretching.
- Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or pack pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, see a chiropractor. If you have chest pain that is severe, seek immediate medical attention.
As back health experts, Doctors of Chiropractic are specially trained to provide diagnosis, treatment and preventative care for spinal, pelvic and joint disorders. Find a chiropractor near you.