Spine Safe Snow Shoveling Tips from Nebraska Spine Hospital

Six Tips for Safer Snow Shoveling

The weatherman says that snow is on the way and low back injuries are the most common snow shoveling related injury. Learn how to avoid injury with the following six tips:

1. Use the Right Tool for the Job

An ergonomic snow shovel with a curved handle or a shovel with an adjustable handle length will reduce back strain from bending and lifting by shifting the weight from your back, to your more powerful leg muscles. Also, pay attention to the weight of the shovel – a lighter weight shovel will reduce the overall load you are moving.

2. Warm Up Those Cold Muscles

Do your back a favor by warming up before you start shoveling. Take a brisk walk to get your blood moving, stretch out your legs and back, and limber up your arms and shoulders with a body hug that you hold for 20-30 seconds.

3. Pace Yourself

It is always better to push the snow to the side rather than lift it. Consider shoveling the snow every 1-2 inches instead of after all the snow has fallen. When shoveling deep snow, shovel off a few inches at a time, instead of tackling the entire depth at once.

4. Minimize Your Fall Risk

Slips and falls are a leading cause of back injury. Minimize your risk by wearing proper footwear with good treads. Consider using anti-slip ice traction shoe covers, like Yaktrax, to make sure your feet stay firmly planted while you shovel.

5. Don’t Do It!

Use a snow blower instead. Pushing a snow blower uses your leg muscles and protects your back from injury.

6. Finally, if you are Going to Shovel Then Lift Safely

Prevent injury by practicing the following safe lifting techniques:

• Square your shoulders and hips to the shovel and grip it with your hands about 12 inches apart.

• Bend at the hips, not at the low back and push your chest out, bending at the knees and lifting with your legs.

• Keep the heaviest part of the load close to your body and your center of gravity.

• Avoid twisting your back to move or throw the snow. Pivot your whole body, keeping it square to the shovel in order to move- not toss or throw- the snow to the new location.

…But Accidents Can Happen

If you or a friend or family member do happen to suffer a back injury and need care please Make and Appointment with one of our board certified and fellowship trained spine surgeons. They practice a full spectrum of conservative spine care options including physical therapy and pain management.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign-up for our monthly Healthy Back Newsletter for regular tips and education to keep you and your family safe from back pain.

Source: Spine-Health.com
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