According to my friend Mike, the best way to protect your back while shoveling snow is to hire the neighbor’s kid to do it. This is of course, the correct answer. For those of us that would rather keep that money in our pockets or spend it at your longmont chiropractor, the following tips will prevent injury and save you some pain and suffering.
THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
With a lot of things in life, having the correct equipment makes a world of difference. First of all, make sure you dress warm enough. According to the NIH, people shoveling snow who have a heart attack likely have one because they have not dressed warm enough. I suggest several layers (dress like an onion), and make sure to cover your head.
Having the correct snow shovel is important. Rather than buying the standard straight handled shovel with a metal blade, try out an ergonomic handled shovel with a light, plastic blade. They don’t cost much more, and they make shoveling much easier.
PUSH IT. PUSH IT GOOD.
Instead of scooping snow, lifting it up, and throwing it to the side, try placing the shovel at the height of your navel and becoming a snow plow. Keeping the blade centered and pushing the snow will require less effort and will ultimately be easier on your back. Of course, this isn’t feasible for all your entire shoveling area.
LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS, AND BE SQUARE.
In those areas where pushing the snow is not a possibility, try following these guidelines.
- When scooping snow, squat down keeping your spine erect.
- Grip the shovel lower down towards the blade, with your dominant hand closer to your body.
- Rather than twisting your torso to throw snow, scoop, then pivot your foot to the direction you want to throw the snow, keeping the shovel squarely in front of you.
- Exhale as you (gently) throw the snow.
- Never throw snow over your shoulder.
- Only scoop what you can comfortably lift.
If you follow these recommendations, you can avoid many winter injuries. Of course, if you do get hurt, a Longmont chiropractor would be happy to put you back together. Enjoy the snow!