Ahh, who doesn’t love a good coating of fresh, powdery snow? Majestic, calming, picturesque, I can keep going if you’d like. However, I know that many people don’t share my affinity for winter weather. One thing we can agree on though, is how much of a pain snow can be when it comes to your daily commute, starting with getting it off of your driveway! Just like we all knew it would, the first major snow storm of the season is on it’s way. With the impending doom that is a winter wonderland, it’s Alliance Orthopedics’ job to equip you with knowledge on how to stay injury free while removing snow from around your house. We’ve compiled a list of our best snow shoveling tips to keep you safe from injury this winter season.
- Feeling pain? Hang up the shovel. If you are experiencing any pain or stiffness at all, don’t even think about picking that shovel up! Pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong; just the smallest mishap can leave you with some serious problems.
- Buy an ergonomic shovel. A full shovel can weigh between 15 and 25 pounds depending on how wet the snow is. The ergonomic, bent-handle shovel can give you more leverage and allow you to move the snow with better biomechanical form.
- Push, don’t lift the snow. Avoiding the lifting component of snow removal greatly
reduces the risk of injuring yourself. Use your legs to push the shovel and move the snow out of the way. NEVER throw the snow over your shoulder. A loaded rotational stress to your spine is a textbook disc injury.
- If you must lift, think big. No, I don’t mean lift as much snow as you can. Think big, as in using your big muscles (legs and core) to lift the snow. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests shoveling 1-2 inches at a time, separating your hands by 12 inches to increase leverage, and bending at the knees to lift upwards. Never bend at the waist, lift using just your arms, or lift while reaching as it will put far too much stress on your spine.
- Warm up. Not just with hot chocolate and a heavy jacket, warm up your muscles! Cold muscles do not function with the same efficiency as those that are warmed up. Getting your blood flowing also decreases your risk of straining a muscle or spraining a joint.
Our best suggestion to avoid injury while removing snow would be, if feasible, to purchase a snow blower. It’s worth your investment: your spine will thank you in the long run. Just please keep your fingers clear of the blades! If a snow blower is not in the works, the tips above can help you stay safe from pain and agony. When in doubt, let the kid next door do it and PLEASE be careful of the dreaded slip-n-fall! Stay Well.