How to Shovel Snow and Alleviate Back Pain

Back pain and injuries typically flare up more during the colder months due to several factors. We covered most of these factors last week in our blog, but we didn’t touch on the most common cause: snow removal.

Using the wrong techniques when shoveling snow can put so much stress on the back, neck, and arms, which could lead to a painful muscle strain, or more serious back injuries. Since shoveling snow is such a necessary evil during the winter, below are some great tips and advice on how you can avoid injury this season!

Use the Right Shovel
The right snow shovel can help take some of the effort out of your snow removal chores. Choose one with a curved handle or adjustable handle length to minimize bending down. The right shovel will allow you to bend your knees and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground. Also, using a small, lightweight, plastic blade will reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.
Warm Up All the Way
Your muscles tend to tighten up when your body is cold, so properly warming up before stepping outside to shovel will keep your blood flowing and muscles relaxed. Stretching before shoveling also alleviates the pressure on your back muscles, preventing a sprain.
Take Your Time
There’s no Guiness World Record for fastest snow remover. Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous on your body than shoveling a large pile at once, even if it takes longer to complete. If you can, give yourself a few days for snow removal, or prioritize your area. If you aren’t planning to drive, try shoveling the sidewalk first, and worrying about the driveway the next day to relieve your back and arms. When dealing with heavy snowfall, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once.

Remember to always practice safe lifting techniques, use a heat compress, and drink plenty of water while shoveling snow. If you think you may have suffered a sprain, please contact Dr. Sharma at Virginia Spine Specialists.