Shovel Safely to Prevent Back Injury

by Dr. Lisa Arkowski, Gonstead, Stangl and Arkowski Chiropractic

The leaves have fallen, and there’s a chill in the air. Only one thing is certain: winter is coming and so is the snow. Once the snow hits the ground, it has to be cleared. Shoveling snow can be great exercise and a good reason to get some fresh air. Unfortunately it’s also one of the most common ways to injure the back in the winter. With a few precautions, this chore can be done without injury.

?  Shovel soon after snowfall; it’s lighter when it’s fresh.

?  Warm up—such as taking a brisk walk—and then stretch.

?  Use a shovel with a curved handle or adjustable handle length to reduce the amount of bending needed.

?  Don’t lift with your low back—hinge forward at the hips and keep your upper body upright.

?  Don’t twist to throw snow. Face the direction that you need it to go.

?  Keep your arms relatively close to you; avoid reaching out too far.

?  For a big snowfall, move it in layers, or go out a couple times to get to it before it settles.

?  Pace yourself. Take breaks as often as you need to. Don’t worry, the snow will still be there when you come back to it.

?  Wear appropriate footwear. In Wisconsin there could easily be an ice rink underneath that layer of fluffy white, so be careful and wear boots with non-slippery soles.

Shoveling snow is a strenuous activity, so if you have a history of health conditions or are typically inactive, you need to be especially careful. Your best bet may be to find someone to bribe with a plate of delicious cookies and hot cocoa to enjoy once the job is done.

It’s not winter in Wisconsin without some snowfall, so get out there, get the snow cleared safely, and get on with enjoying the beautiful weather!

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