The Proper Do’s and Do Not's of Shoveling Snow
A 2009 medical study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that, on average, 11,500 people across the country suffer snow shoveling-related injuries and medical emergencies every year.
This winter season protect yourself with these do’s and do not's of shoveling.
Do: Warm Up and Stretch
· Spent 5-10 mins doing some marching in place, squats, lunges, shoulder rolls, hamstring stretches, and heel cord stretches. Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles.
Do: Pick the right shovel
· A small, lightweight plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending, requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back slightly, while keeping the shovel blade on the ground.
Don’t: Be Macho
· If you’re inactive or have a history of low back or neck pain, hire someone to shovel the driveway for you – neighborhood kids are usually eager to get out make a little bit of money on their days off.
· If you are going to shovel yourself, don’t try to lift large piles of snow.
· Fresh snow weighs far less than snow that has been sitting for a while. Waiting allows for the snow to compact and get wet, translates to becoming heavier or even worse turning into ice.
Do: Push the snow
· If possible push the snow to a pile.
Don’t: Twist and throw the snow
· What you might not have known is that one shovelful of snow can weigh up to 20 pounds. But if you have to lift the snow, maintain good posture.
o Stand with your feet shoulder width apart for balance and bend at the knees rather than at the waist or back.
o Keep the shovel close to your body rather than extending your arms all the way.
o Tighten your stomach muscles and then lift with your legs as if you are doing a squat.
o Switch off between snow shoveling right-handed and left-handed, so that you’re working different muscles.
Do: Take your time
· I know it’s cold but rushing and not paying attention to your body mechanics could increase your risk of injury. Low back pain from shoveling is one of the common reasons for emergency room visits in the winter.
· Shoveling is a form of weight lifting. You need to pace yourself and take regular breaks. If you feel any pain you should stop.
Do: Keep and cellphone handy
· Just in case for emergencies. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t: Continue if you are experiencing pain
If you do experience pain or an injury that continues throughout the day or weekend, you are welcome to utilize PTW’s FREE screenings and consultations. You can be assessed by a licensed physical therapist and given a recommendation based on the findings. Appointments are made within 24 hours of phone call.
PTW’s Stephanie McDougal, PT, DPT is the Clinical Supervisor at our Souderton clinic. For an initial evaluation, call Steph at 215 855 1160 today for an appointment as soon as possible!