As winter takes hold, that means snow will be part of your day more often. Whether you love or hate it, we can all agree that shoveling it is a chore. Snow shoveling can leave your back and arms aching, but can it cause legitimate injuries? If so, how can they be prevented or treated?
Is Shoveling Snow Bad for Your Back?
Shoveling snow is a common cause of back pain and can aggravate any issues. The bending, lifting, and repetitive motion involved in clearing your sidewalk or driveway can cause a wide variety of strains and injuries if you do not use suitable techniques to take care of yourself.
What Injuries Can You Get from Shoveling Snow?
The most common snow shoveling injuries are to the lower back, arms, hands, and head. These can include everything from mild contusions, bumps, and bruises to back strains and even sometimes broken bones.
People with heart conditions or blood pressure issues should be especially careful about shoveling snow. The physical strain of shoveling drives up your heart rate, which can exacerbate these conditions and has even been known to induce heart attacks in some.
If you suspect you have injured yourself, stop shoveling immediately. In such circumstances, you are always advised to contact a professional for a physical exam and assessment.
How to Safely Shovel Snow
You can prevent snow shoveling injury with the right technique. First of all, treat it like any other form of exercise: warm up first, hydrate, and dress for the weather. Even though you won’t feel as thirsty as when exerting yourself during hot weather, dehydration is still a risk, and dehydrated muscles are more easily injured.
Don’t shovel right after a meal or cocktails (just like swimming). Pace yourself, stop, and rest frequently, even if you don’t think you need to. Use the proper gear. An ergonomic shovel goes a long way in relieving back strain.
Now for physical technique. Keep your back straight at all times and lift with your legs. Keep your arms close to your body to reduce the strain on your back and arms. Push the snow, don’t lift it. Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder, as the rotation can cause back strains.
Snow Blower Injuries
Using a snow blower doesn’t free you from the risk of injuries, it just changes the type of injuries that are possible.
Follow the tips below to prevent snow-blowing injuries:
- Read the instructions thoroughly before using.
- Do not put your hand in the snowblower.
- Keep your hands, feet, scarves, etc., away from all moving parts.
- Turn off the snowblower if you have to leave it for even a minute.
- Mind the cord on electric snowblowers so you don’t trip.
- Do not add gas to a snowblower whose engine is running or hot.
- Keep children away from the snowblower.
If a jam occurs, turn off the snowblower and wait 5-10 minutes before doing anything to clear the jam. Use a solid object to clear the jam instead of your hand. Recoil from the motor and blades can still cause injury even when the snowblower is turned off.
Let Total Chiro Treat Your Snow Shoveling Injury
Total Chiropractic Care and Wellness is ready to help you recover from your snow shoveling injury. Using a variety of chiropractic care techniques, we can help return you to a full and healthy range of motion and restore your quality of life. Get in touch and make an appointment with Dr. Goldman. You can also reach us directly by phone at (631) 447-2299.