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How to avoid the snow shovel blues!

How to prevent low back strain from snow removal

Jodi Dec 22, 2013

Well, they are calling for heavy, wet snow today.  That can mean more shoveling, and less snow blowing. I love being outside right after a snow, even if it is only to move snow!  Most (sane) people aren’t as excited about the prospect of shoveling as I am however.  One big reason is low back pain and body soreness that can result from the exercise.  Here are a few tips to make your snow removal as enjoyable and pain-free as possible.

Pick a good shovel.  Choose something plastic and light weight.  A curved handle can help improve the ergonomics of the process.  Position your hands about 12 inches apart to ensure good stability with the shovel. 

Lift right.  If you can avoid lifting at all, do so. Push the snow rather than lift it as much as possible.  When it’s time to lift, always face the object you intend to lift head on.  Your shoulders and hips should both be pointed in the direction of your shovel.  Bend at the hips, and then bend your knees.  Lift with your leg muscles keeping a straight back.  Keep your loads relatively light.  Better to move more, lighter shovel-fulls.  Avoid twisting the back to move the snow.  Instead, pivot your whole body.  Try to keep the full shovel close to your body at your center of gravity – avoid extending your arms to throw the snow. 

Do it a little at a time.  Expecting more than 6 inches of snow?  Try moving the snow in a couple of passes rather than all at once.  Possible to move half today and the other half tomorrow?  That’s a good option.

Wear shoes or boots with good tread.  You can really wrench your back in a fall.  Make sure you have good boots with a nice tread.  Take your time to avoid a fall.

Look around.  What’s more beautiful than trees laced with a new snow and snow-capped roofs lit up with holiday lights?  Enjoy the beauty of the season and take good care of you.  Happy holidays!

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