Tips for How to Safely Shovel Snow
With December settling in, New Englanders will be happy to know that the area isn’t expected to have the harshest of winters – which means fewer days spent shoveling snow and more spent enjoying the benefits of winter, from ice skating to staying warm indoors. However, even the mildest of winters in New England involve snow, so there will always be snow to shovel – which, unfortunately, can come at the cost of an injured back or neck. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood and impact of such injuries during these months, which means that you can continue to enjoy the season without hurting yourself. Here are a few tips on how to safely shovel snow to prevent injury:
1. Warm up
One of the main causes of neck and back injury while shoveling snow is stiffness in the muscles, which arises from spending an extended period of time outside in the cold. When this occurs, your muscle fibers get closer together and bend and stretch far less easily than normal, which can lead to injury through tears or strains. To prevent this from happening, warm up thoroughly before shoveling snow. You can do this by performing stretching exercises or simply making sure that you are not stiff before you begin.
2. Choose the right shovel
Another reason you may experience neck or back pain when shoveling snow is if you are using the wrong shovel. For example, a shovel that is too long or too short will cause you to extend yourself forward or push yourself back too much, leading to discomfort and possibly injury. Using an ergonomic shovel, or one that has a curved handle or an adjustable length, will help alleviate this problem.
3. Change your technique
Certain motions can harm your neck and back more than others, especially twisting to the side or bending your back and head. Instead, make sure to directly face the object that you are lifting. Bend at the hips, rather than the back, and pivot your whole body rather than twisting your back when moving snow from one location to another. Always make sure to only lift what you can comfortably handle; keep it on the lighter side if need be! When positioning your hands, keep in mind that one hand should be as close to the blade as possible and the other should be positioned along the shovel’s handle.
Even with the proper snow shoveling techniques, backs can still occasionally become sore or tweaked. If you’re in need of massage therapy or chiropractic care this winter, call Access to Health Chiropractic Center at (860) 889-1475.