Winter time is with us once again. Well, at least it will be here soon. We have been rather lucky so far to not have to deal with much snow. However, the Farmers Almanac is anticipating higher than usual precipitation for December and January which means, inevitably, the snow will come and it will need to be shoveled.
Each year I see patients in the clinic that hurt themselves from shoveling. Whether it be due to over use because snow volumes are high requiring frequent shoveling or the patients who “threw their backs out” because snow was wet and heavy–these injuries could be avoided by considering a few simple tips.
Warm up. That’s right. Take some time to get physically and mentally prepared to attack that freshly fallen snow. Be sure to stretch your shoulders, arms and back in order to help prevent injuries.
Be sure you have the correct equipment: Dress in layers so that you can keep your muscles warm. Consider the use of an ergonomically correct shovel to improve posture and decrease risk of back injury.
Give yourself plenty of time: Don’t be in a hurry. If the snow is heavy, only take half a shovel full or less of snow with each pass. Yes, this may take awhile, but recovering from a back injury will take longer. Also, be sure to take plenty of rest breaks so that your muscles do not become over fatigued.
Be aware of your posture: Try to always push the snow in a straight line and push it all the way to the snowbank. Be sure not to bend over. Avoid twisting or over throwing the snow. And ALWAYS lift with your legs.
Remember: With higher than average snowfall expected, protect yourself so that you can stay healthy and enjoy some of the fun outdoor activities this time of year brings!!!
Joel DeMaris, PT, DPT, CMTPT
Physical Therapy Consultants Inc. December 16th, 2015
Posted In: General