Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors
Shoveling. It’s a sad reality of living in Alberta. Every time the powdery white stuff falls, someone has to be outside to clear it. Some winters can be harsher than others, but shoveling is inescapable. What can be avoided is the stress shoveling can put on your body. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine released a study which says an average on 11,500 individuals in the U.S. have a shoveling related injury every year. There are ways though you can prevent injuries related to shoveling.
When you have a task as tedious as shoveling snow, it’s understandable to want to just zip up your coat, put on your winter cap and gloves and barrel through it. Unfortunately, this is the first mistake you can make that may lead to injury. It’s imperative to stretch because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured. The Straighten Up Alberta program is a great place to start if you are looking for an effective way to stretch and warm up before shoveling.
Choosing the Right Shovel
When you hit the store to pick up a new shovel, you generally don’t put too much thought into your new shovel. It may be surprising, but not all snow shovels were created equal.
It’s important to find a shovel that is specifically meant for removing snow. Also, buying a shovel that is the proper height is important. With the blade on the ground, the snow shovel should come up to approximately your chest height, as this this will reduce strain on your back because you aren’t bending down as far as well as making the snow easier to lift.
Also, try to use a lightweight, push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with a non-stick spray so snow slides of easily.
When lifting anything, technique is important. Shoveling and lifting snow off your driveway is no different. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile. Squat and bend your knees. Your legs take the stress off of your back when you lift heavy objects like snow. Be sure to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and tighten your abdominal muscles.
Also, to reduce the strain don’t wait until the snow is six feet deep to begin shoveling. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run, so try and get ahead of the shoveling duties during a big snow fall.
If the snow has already piled up, don’t try to shovel all of it at once. You should try to only lift the top two inches of snow off at a time to prevent injury.
If you’ve injured yourself shoveling, go see your chiropractor. Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. If you experience back pain related to winter activities, consult your chiropractor.