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9 Tips on Safe (and Back Healthy) Snow Shoveling

Shoveling snow isn’t anything new for us New Yorkers. But it can be hard on the back. Here are some tips to protect you (and your back) when it’s time to shovel snow.

1. Use the Right Tool (Snow Shovel) for the Job

Selecting the proper shovel is a major factor in reducing back strain when snow shoveling.

Consider how much weight your lifting, which includes the weight of the snow and the shovel. Larger shovels may seem like they’ll help you move more snow faster but remember that each shovel load will weigh more.

safety tips for snow shovelingMake sure the shovel you choose isn’t too long to comfortably control. Different snow shovels are designed for different tasks, therefore have a selection of snow shovels on hand if possible.

2. Push, Don’t Lift

As opposed to lifting, pushing is much less stress on your back. Whenever possible, try to push the snow, rather than lift it.

3. If you Must Lift the Snow…

If you must lift the snow, use proper lifting techniques. Using proper lifting techniques when snow shoveling is crucial for minimizing strain on your back. To lift properly, keep your knees bent, back straight, and lift with your legs – not your back. Always avoid twisting your back when throwing a shovel full of snow.

4. Don’t Overdo

Don’t try to lift a lot of snow with each shovel load. Too much weight could aggravate your back. If it’s easier, just skim a few inches off the top of the snow pile to keep the weight you’re lifting at a safe level.

5. Get a Good Grip

Your hands should be about shoulder’s width apart on the snow shovel. Wear appropriate gloves if necessary to ensure your hands don’t slip while shoveling snow.

6. Take Care of Your Snow Shovel

To keep snow from sticking to your snow shovel, coat the blade with car wax or simply spray it with cooking spray. Just be careful to keep the handle clear of lubricants so it doesn’t become slippery.

7. Shoveling is Exercise – Treat It As Such

A little warm up of stretches and light exercise can help get your muscles and spine ready for a round of snow shoveling.

8. As With All Exercise, Take Frequent Breaks

Don’t overdo. If you feel like you’re getting tired or strained, give yourself, and your back, a break.

9. Always Follow your Doctors’ Recommendations

Doctors may restrict your activity level based on your age, fitness level, and other factors. Take these recommendations seriously!

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery