Here in the Northeast, Winter has arrived in the form of 3-6 inches of snow. Many of us are not used to the heavy lifting that is required for snow shoveling. Lower back pain is frequently a result of snow shoveling. But in extreme cases, snow shoveling can trigger significant heart problems, such as acute coronary syndrome .
Here we present three quick tips for safe snow shoveling and for saving our backs:
Don’t Do It – For many of us, even weekend warriors, intermittent heavy lifting like snow shoveling can cause lower back pain, or worse. One way to address this is to find a teenager, or even a professional snow removal company, to do it for you. Yes, this will cost some money, but compare that to the cost of a trip to the doctor, prescription medicines to treat your lower back pain , etc.
Use The Right Shovel – Where possible, try to use shovels that allow you to push and plow the snow, rather than lift the snow. Pushing snow encourages you to use the large, strong muscles in your legs, instead of lifting with your back.
Use Proper Technique – If you must pick up heavy snow, remember to:
- Try to keep the shovel half-full per load
- Focus on frequent, small loads instead of few, heavy loads
- Bend at the hips and use the legs, not the lower back
- Walk the snow over to the dump spot; don’t try to throw the snow
Brace Yourself – Get and use a high quality back support belt . Avoid the cheaper ones sometimes sold at home improvement centers. The investment will be worth it in the long run.
Winter is a great time for outdoor activities, like sledding and snow shoe walks. Don’t let the snow cause back problems, or worse. If you have to clear snow yourself, use the right equipment and techniques, and enjoy yourself more this Winter!