How to shovel snow safely and avoid low back pain or other injuries this winter
With the extreme weather conditions hitting northern and central New Jersey as well as the rest of the nation, and the likelihood of the Garden State seeing more snow before winter is over, Arrow Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation of Edison, Woodbridge and Union would like to remind you of the importance of shoveling snow properly to avoid injuries, especially low back pain.
Many dread the act of shoveling snow and may rush through the process to get it done as quickly as possible, but using incorrect body mechanics when shoveling can put undue stress on the lower back and lead to painful muscle strains. Low back pain is usually considered the most common injury experienced due to shoveling, and in extreme cases, may even lead to a herniated disc. Fortunately, most of these cases can be prevented if appropriate precautions are taken.
This winter, take steps to ensure you’re shoveling safely and properly, so you can actually enjoy the snow instead of worrying about nagging back pain or other problems. For a pain-free shoveling experience, follow these tips from our printable handout and those found below:
- Pick a shovel that’s best for your size and remember a smaller blade will mean a smaller load of snow and less strain on your back
- Don’t move snow twice; instead, carefully plan your moves ahead of time
- Try to move snow the shortest distance possible at all times
- Don’t shovel immediately after eating or while smoking, which can lead to cramps or shortness of breath
- Clear off the snow on cars first so you don’t shovel the same area twice
- Use the assistance of the sun: if the sun is shining, it’s not necessary to completely clear an area so pavement is seen, and a thin strip of snow or ice will soon melt with some sun and a thin layer of de-icer
- If your area is supposed to be getting sufficient snowfall, try to get a head start and shovel over a few small sessions instead of all at once
- If possible, team up with neighbors or family members to expedite the job
- For those who are physically incapable of shoveling, consider investing in a snow blower or snow thrower to take care of the removal process
If you do experience any pain while shoveling, in the back or elsewhere in the body, stop immediately and don’t push through it, which can make the pain worse. If the pain persists, please visit Arrow Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at any of our three locations in Edison, Woodbridge or Union, where we’ll be happy to evaluate your problem and create a treatment plan to reduce your pain.
Stay safe and remember to take your time shoveling snow this winter.