Avoid Back Injury While Shoveling Snow

There's a greater chance of injuring your back while shoveling snow than there is while raking leaves. There are several reasons for this – one of which is the weight of the snow that you are trying to move. Fresh snow is always lighter than snow that has been sitting on the ground where it compacts and becomes more dense. One shovelful can weigh as much as 20 pounds, possibly more. In areas that are famous for 'champagne powder' snow, like Colorado, the first day after a snowfall usually finds the fluffy stuff still light and easy to push – rather than shovel. A shovel designed for pushing this lighter snow makes the job much easier.

If you lift an average shovel, loaded with 16 pounds of snow, about 12 times a minute, you will have moved 192 pounds of snow! If you keep this up, in about 10 minutes, you will have lived almost 2000 pounds of snow! Is it any wonder shoveling snow can lead to back strains and sprains?

According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission in 2006, more than 31,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms or doctor's offices and clinics for injuries that occurred while shoveling snow or removing ice manually. In a study published by Brad Coffiner of Cornell University, the ergonomic department said "when handling heavy snow with a shovel, the L5 / S1 disc has been identified as the weakest link in the body segment chain. to occur in the back region. "

When you bend forward to scoop the snow onto the shovel, your center of gravity changes and it is easy to strain the low back muscles, especially the quadratus lumborum, a muscle which helps hold the body upright. This lumbar muscle can become very sore and painful after periods of bending at the waist and lifting. This muscle can be strengthened and trained for lifting by regular exercise but, unless that has been already done, get a shovel that does not make you bend down.

When you lift snow and then rotate to dump it, you place a strain on the disks which are between the vertebrae and act as shock absorbers, cushioning them. Lifting and twisting can cause the vertebrae to slip out of position, possible herniate, which causes pressure on the nearby nerve roots or spinal cord. This injury can be avoided by turning your entire body and facing the spot where you want to dump the snow.

Another less common injury, known as a clay shoveler's fracture, occurs when the snow is wet and sticks to the shovel when you try to throw it up and back over your head or shoulder. The shear force of the muscles can actually break the tip off a vertebra causing severe burning pain, usually between the shoulder blades. This injury can be avoided by carrying the snow to the dumping place and avoiding twisting your body as you drop it. Remember, when carrying snow, do not hold the shovel out from your body because this puts too much weight on your spine.

When selecting a shovel, go for the lighter weight, plastic model instead of a heavier metal one. When using the old fashioned, flatter shovel, you have to bend down, scoop up the snow, lift it, and throw it out of the way. Doing this puts your lower back into several positions just to injury. An ergonomically correct shovel has a curve in the handle and is designed to reduce or eliminate bending and decrease lifting.

Before Starting To Shovel, Warm Up By:

  • Running in place while inside
  • Go up and down stairs several times.
  • Stretching the muscles of your arms and back.

While Shoveling :

  • Maintain good posture
  • Do not twist and rotate your back
  • Bend at the knees when lifting

Snow shoveling is a heavy task that can be handled if you maintain good posture and practice the basics of back safety.