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Posted on 03-09-2017

One of the more common causes of back injuries during the winter months is snow removal, but if you follow these 6 tips, it could help you avoid muscle cramps, neck stiffness and back pain from shoveling:

  1. Pick the right snow shovel.
    • Use an ergonomic snow shovel. This can help you minimize painful bending.
  2. Warm up thoroughly
    • Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles.
    • Do a quick 5-10 minute warm up to help get blood moving.
    •  Go for a brisk walk or another full-body activity.
  3. Pace Yourself
    • Shoveling small amounts of snow less frequently is less strenuous than shoveling large amounts.
    • If the snow is deep, remove the top few inches first, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once.
    • Take 10-15 minute breaks.
  4. Use ergonomic lifting techniques
    • Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it
    • Always face towards the object you intend to lift (ie have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it)
    • Avoid twisting the back to move your object to its new location – always pivot your whole body to face the new direction
    • Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather than reaching or tossing
  5. Keep your feet on the ground
    • If the ground is slippery, wear shoes with good tread to reduce the chance of a slip and fall injury.
  6. If possible, stop shoveling.
    • When used correctly, a snow blower can put less stress on your low back than shoveling.
    • Avoid stressing your back by using the power of your legs to push the snow blower while keeping your back straight and knees bent.

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