Keep your low back healthy this winter season by following the tips below.
Pick the Right Shovel – it should have a curved handle or an adjustable length that requires you to bend your knees and arch your back only slightly while keeping the blade on the ground. A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the weight that you are moving.
Warm Up Thoroughly – Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before shoveling.
Use Good Ergonomic Lifting Techniques – Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting, make sure to use the following technique:
- Bend at the hips and knees, not the low back, and push the chest out. Lift with your legs, not your back.
- Always face towards the object you intend to lift; have your shoulders and hips square.
- Grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other hand on the handle.
- Avoid twisting to move the snow to its new location. Pivot your whole body and walk to the location you want to deposit the snow.
- Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body.
- Keep your hands about 12 inches apart to provide greater stability and minimize the chances of injuring your low back.
Pace Yourself – shovelling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than a large pile at once. Take a break for a minute or two every 10 – 15 minutes or if you feel overworked at any point.
Keep Your Feet on the Ground – Slippery conditions while shoveling can lead to slipping and/or falls. Shoes or boots with good treads will help to minimize injuries from slipping. Spread sand, salt or kitty litter to increase traction and reduce the likelihood of slipping.