One of the most common winter injuries that we see in our clinic is lower back injuries from snow removal. If you’re not careful, this snowy chore can lead to serious pain and injury. As a Canadian, shovelling is just part of life so take a minute to read our winter shovelling tips.
Shovelling snow is considered an exercise. Think of shovelling snow the same way you think of any other exercise or physical activity. Which is great… if you’re ready for it.
Problems can arise if your body is recovering from injury, or you are not exercising regularly. If this is the case you might find a session of shovelling to be overwhelming to your body, especially after large amounts of snow have fallen and need removal. Here are a few tips on how to make the best of this regular winter activity.
- Ensure regular exercise is part of your daily life so that a seemingly non-dangerous activity like shovelling snow doesn’t take you down.
- Warm up! Why not, after all, it’s absolutely an exercise that requires strength, flexibility, and endurance. You could do a few stretches (lower back and hamstrings would be a good start) and run on the spot or do a few stairs before heading out.
- Take breaks. After a heavy snowfall the job ahead of you could take upwards of an hour. (Longer if you’re one of those fabulous Snow Angels who likes to help others). Every 10-15 minutes, or as needed, put the shovel down and stand up straight. Do a short walk around and drink some water to stop yourself from overheating. You’re likely dressed in your warmest winter wear and sweating up a storm so stay hydrated.
- Use an ergonomic shovel. Shovels have come a long way in the past few years and there are many brands that are designed to take some of the effort and bending out of snow removal. They will have a curved handle that minimizes the bending angle required. Also, a plastic shovel will be lighter than a metal one. A full shovel can weight up to 20 lbs so a proper shovel is a must.
- Push the snow aside instead of lifting it away as often as possible.
- Avoid twisting your body with a full shovel. Instead just pivot your whole body to face the direction you’d like to put the snow.
- Do not extend your arms with a full shovel. Keeping it close to your body when it’s heavy will keep you in a more stable position. You can accomplish this by sliding your hand down the shaft of the shovel as close to the blade as possible and comfortable, and bending your knees before lifting a full scoop.
Lastly don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Your family, your neighbour or a nearby friend. Everyone needs a little help sometimes and don’t be afraid to ask if you feel your body is not up to the challenge. You could also assign the task to someone else entirely!
If an injury does occur, our Unified Team Care approach is here to help.
Any of our Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and more, are here to help keep your body safe and moving well this winter.
Call 403-278-1405 or book online today at www.activesportstherapy.ca