SNOW DAY!!! The favorite words of every child (and teacher!) may cause a groan for those in charge of shoveling snow. The chore of clearing snow can result in back, neck and shoulder pain or injuries if not performed correctly.

Here are some tips to prevent injuries and stay safe when shoveling snow:


Warm Up Your Muscles.

Shoveling snow is hard work and like any aerobic activity a good warm up is important. A simple routine that hits the major muscle groups you use is a good idea. Try squats or jogging in place, arm circles, gentle neck stretches, torso rotation and stretches for your hamstrings, quads, calves and shoulders.


Dress Appropriately.

Appropriate footwear with good treads will help minimize your risk of an injury slipping on icy spots. Wear layers of clothing that are insulating, loose, and water-repellent to keep your body warm and dry. Don’t forget your hat, gloves and warm socks!


Choose the Right Snow Shovel.

A good quality ergonomic snow shovel that is comfortable and safe to use can help protect low back injuries.

  • Lightweight: means easier lifting and less energy to use. A shovelful of snow can weigh up to 20 pounds!
  • Handle Length: Studies show that shovels with longer poles, adjustable lengths and curved shafts can help you bend less and lower your risk for injury.
  • Handgrips: Find a shovel with proper handgrips for a sturdy grasp.


Use Proper Body Mechanics.

Squat with legs bent, shoulder width apart, core engaged. Lift with your legs and not your back! Your back should remain straight at all times. DO NOT pick up the snow twist your back or throw snow over one shoulder. Push the snow in a straight line in the direction you want to go. Then if needed, dump the snow by pivoting the entire body in the direction of the foot. Avoid twisting the spine alone as this is the most common way to “throw out your back”.


Take breaks.

Just like any workout, taking frequent breaks can prevent muscle fatigue. Take breaks often so you don’t get too tired to use proper form. A good rule of thumb is to take a 30-second break for every five minutes of snow shoveling. Use that break as a time to stretch your back or arm muscles.


Drink Water and Know Your Limits.

During your break make sure you drink water to stay hydrated and avoid overheating. Listen to your body and stop when you start to feel pain, fatigued, or shortness of breath.


Stay safe out there, friends! Don’t forget to take a break to build a snowman or have some fun!

If you do find yourself with back pain or a lingering injury don’t wait to get help. Call us if you need evaluated at 419-678-OHIO. Remember, we offer direct access to therapy, which means you do not need a physician referral. We also offer FREE screens!