Amelia Fratnik DC ART

Improper technique while shoveling snow is seen as the culprit for most wintertime strains. Combining that with the average weight of one shovelful of snow (three to five kgs) can result in a serious risk for injury.  Back problems are prevalent in the winter, especially occurring in those who are not used to rigorous physical activity like shoveling snow.

To help keep your back in shape and your driveway clear, follow the following preventive tips:

  1. Warm up.  Before beginning any snow removal, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. To do this, march on the spot, climb the stairs, or go for a quick walk for about 3 minutes. Follow this with some gentle stretches for the back (eg. alternating knee to chest), arms and shoulders (eg. body hug), and legs (eg. forward bends from a sitting and from a standing position). This will ensure that your body is ready for action.
  2. Don’t let the snow pile up.  Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous than to wait until the snowstorm is over!  “Less is more”!
  3. Pick the right shovel.  Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel or try a shovel with an ergonomic handle.
  4. Push, don’t throw.  Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing.  If you must throw, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.
  5. Bend your knees.  Use your knees, legs and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.
  6. Watch the ice. Coarse sand, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help to give your walkways and driveways more traction, reducing the chance of a slip or fall.
  7. Wear proper footwear.  Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
  8. Take a break.  If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Make it a habit to rest for a minute or two for every 10 to 15 minutes during shovelling.  This is especially important if the snow is wet and heavy. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.

Enjoy this beautiful time of year in a healthy, pain-free way!!