The snow-covered landscape is an iconic image that is typically associated with the holiday season. However, the novelty of having a white Christmas rapidly fades for New Jersey residents as they break out their snow shovels to clear a path for the walkways and driveways of their homes. In addition to being a tedious chore, shoveling snow can be a hazardous undertaking due to the fact that it is a repetitive activity causing muscle strain in a person’s shoulders and lower back. The risk of suffering a back injury from shoveling snow increases as those lovely white snowflakes start to pile up. This blog discusses tips to help you avoid injuries when clearing out snow this winter.
As with any labor-intensive activity, you should always stretch and warm up before diving into snow shoveling. Stretching will help loosen any tight muscles, reducing the chances of pulling or spraining any muscle tissue. It is also important to get acclimated to the temperature, so you aren’t shivering. Shivering involves involuntary muscle spasms that can lead to an injury when introduced to sudden strain.
Use a Proper Shovel
Using a shovel that is too short can force you to hunch over from a prolonged period. Poor posture combined with heavy lifting usually spells disaster. Therefore, you might want to buy a shovel that will allow you to work while your back is in a proper upright position make this chore a lot easier.
Don’t Be a Hero – Shovel Lighter
Assuming that your shovel is at a proper length, do not try to shovel massive amounts of snow at once. The body will intuitively grab the shovel closer to its fulcrum, causing you to bend down into a more vulnerable position. Furthermore, the extra weight of the snow will put an undue amount of strain on your back, possibly causing a sprain.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
You should avoid any exaggerated twisting motions when shoveling snow. Your back is not designed to handle twisting as well as it can handle bending. Remember to draw strength from your legs, rather than your back. To do this, keep your back straight and bend your legs to perform any heavy lifting.
For long pathways, make sure you take a break every ten or fifteen minutes. Take a light walk while keeping your back straight while occasionally bending forward to stretch your lower back. Exercises that activate the muscle groups in your lower back can help you tolerate more exertion. Stand up straight with your hands on your hips while slightly bending backward to engage your lower back muscles. Repeat as necessary while counter-stretching by slight bending forward.
Get Professional Treatment by a Monmouth County Physical Therapist
Back injuries are one of the most common issues that physical therapy can help patients treat. You should find an experienced Monmouth County physical therapy to help you manage a back injury while regaining function. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we have specialized knowledge and training to help you achieve your personal health and fitness goals so you can avoid injury.