Save Your Back With Proper Snow Shoveling Technique
December 15, 2020
January 11, 2019
Improper snow shoveling technique is a leading cause of back pain in the winter. The good news is, by following 3 simple shoveling tips; you can clear your sidewalk without pain and at the same time, strengthen your essential back muscles.
Pick the Right Shovel
Before you venture out into the cold, be sure to choose a properly sized, ergonomic shovel. This will reduce stress on your back as you avoid painful bending and twisting.
Ideally, a shovel with a curved handle and adjustable length works best. If you use an improperly sized or shaped shovel you will continuously put unnecessary strain on your back that could easily be avoided.
Lift With Your Legs
Make sure to lift with your legs—NOT your back—when you’re shoveling this winter. Bend at the knees to avoid putting stress on your lower back. By bending at the knees and not at the waist, you are using your legs to do the lifting, instead of straining your lower back with each shovel full of snow.
Avoid the ‘Twist’
It is best to save the Twist for the dance floor and avoid a twisting motion when you are tossing snow. Each time you toss and twist you put stress on your back.
Try to pivot your entire body to face the correct direction prior to moving snow. Your back will thank you. Even though it may take a few extra seconds, it will help save you hours of pain that could result from the toss and twist technique.
Hopefully these simple tips help you get through the winter pain free and in good shape to enjoy the beautiful weather of the spring and summer months.
Note: Snow shoveling is fairly rigorous exercise that can strain your heart. Start slow and pace yourself. Learn more about how to take care of your heart during winter activities.
Christopher D. Kager, MD, FACS
Christopher D. Kager, MD, FACS, is a neurosurgeon with LG Health Physicians NeuroScience and Spine Associates.
Education: Undergraduate–University of Pennsylvania; Medical School–University of Pennsylvania; Residency–University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Fellowship–Cleveland Clinic Foundation.