Man shovelling snow with proper technique to avoid back pain

Snow Shovelling 101

The season of snow is upon us. Do you have your snow shovelling strategy in place? Sure, you can head out and grab a shovel at every whim of winter, but if you treat snow removal as a process you will reduce your risk of injury and frustration. You might even enjoy it!

One of the keys to snow removal success is to invest in the proper tools. Choose a shovel with an ergonomic design or an adjustable handle. Try it out in the store to see whether the shovel is comfortable to use for your height, and to hold in your hands. Make sure you have a winter coat, hat, scarf, mittens or gloves, and snow or wind pants that are comfortable to move in. Lastly, get yourself quality boots that will keep your feet warm, supported, and planted safely on the driveway at all times. Investing in a snow blower isn’t a bad idea.

Know what you’re getting yourself into. Check the forecast and find out how much snow to expect and how long it will fall. If you’re schedule allows, plan to remove snow multiple times during a long or heavy snowfall to reduce the strain on your muscles.

When you’re ready to bundle up and get out into the flurry, take a few minutes to warm up and stretch your muscles. Rotate your shoulders, stretch your back, squat or lift your knees towards your chest a few times with each leg so that that first lift of snow isn’t a shock to your system.

Push snow whenever possible, and only lift when you have to. Lift with your knees! When you do have to lift that shovelful of snow up onto the lawn, face the direction you intend the snow to go straight on, bend your knees a little, and put your weight on your legs. Place one hand on the handle of your shovel and the other as far down towards the blade as you comfortably can. Bend your body at the waist and tighten your core a little – work those abs! Use your arms and legs to lift the snow, and your core to move your torso. Combined, these actions put a lot less stress on your back which will allow you to keep going both with your shoveling duties, and daily life. If shoveling hurts beyond the regular slow burn of exercise, stop and rest, and maybe hire the neighbour to finish the job for you. Book an appointment with a chiropractor to find out what went wrong.

Avoid lifting huge piles of snow. You’ll still get a great workout, and a good job done, by shoveling that huge pile you’ve pushed together in half-shovel increments. Stay hydrated and take breaks to ensure that you don’t overdo it – that snow will wait for you.

Bonus tip: Train your brain to think of snow removal as exercise rather than a chore to help you battle those winter blues. As the snow falls think about the fact that you have a great reason to get a workout in, breathe in fresh air, and socialize with the neighbours. Find ways to enjoy snow shoveling and make it part of the routine instead of a nuisance.

Wilson Health Services can help get ready to deal with every snowfall. Book a massage, schedule a chiropractic appointment, get fitted for orthotics, or find out what else we can offer to help you get through the snow removal. Call to book an appointment today: 519-624-8000.