Preventing Injury When Snow Shovelling

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Snow shovelling is one of the most frequent causes of back injuries in the winter months. When done improperly, it can lead to injuries including painful muscle strains or serious conditions such as herniated discs.

Here are some tips to help you avoid lower back injuries and muscle strains during the snowy season:

  • The right shovel makes all difference. An ergonomically designed shovel can take some of the strain off of your snow shovelling. Look for ones with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length; this helps to reduce bending over when shovelling.
  • Warm up! Flexible, warmed-up muscles are less prone to injury than cold tight muscles. Do a five to ten-minute warm-up by taking a walk or marching on the spot to get your blood pumping before you start to shovel.

If you experience persistent pain after shovelling or other activities and would like further information on a general stretching program, make an appointment with a physiotherapist.

Remember to pace yourself; do not try to shovel everything all at once. Take breaks every 10-15 minutes or if you feel overworked. Stretch your arms and back frequently to help keep them warm and flexible.

  • Always face the object you intend to lift
  • Bend at your hips, not your lower back. Keep your chest up and bend at the knees while lifting with your legs, keeping your back straight.
  • If a load is heavy keep one hand close to the blade and one hand on the handle.
  • Avoid twisting your back to move a load. Always pivot and move your whole body.
  • When gripping the shovel keep your hands about 12 inches apart. This provides better stability and reduces the chance of injury.