Snow Shoveling Tips

Winter is upon us and when it snows, many of us will be outside shoveling sidewalks and driveways. Snow shoveling is difficult work, and is an activity that can cause many health complications such as muscle strain to the shoulders and lower back. Injuries are even more common to those who do not realize that they are out of condition.


When wintery weather strikes, follow these guidelines when you shovel snow:


  • Use the right size shovel for you. The right shovel allows you to keep your back straight while lifting. A shovel that is too short will cause you to bend over too much, but a shovel that is too long will make the weight at the end heavier to lift.


  • Lift smaller loads instead of large shovelfuls. Larger loads of snow are heavy and can greatly increase chances of injuries.


  • Use your knees, not your back when you lift a load of snow. You should lift with your legs when you shovel, just like when you are lifting other heavy objects.


  • Step, don’t twist your back when you throw the snow.  Take a step in the direction you are throwing the snow instead of twisting your spine in that direction. Your spine does not tolerate excessive twisting, which can lead to fatigue.


  • Take a break periodically to extend and stretch the muscles in your lower back. Walk around a bit and do a couple backward-bending exercises:  stand up straight, place your hands on the back of your hips, and bend backward slightly for a few seconds.



If you do injure yourself or have muscle fatigue after snow shoveling, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help to relieve pain after an injury as well as teach you how to avoid injuries in the future.