THROW THE SNOW NOT YOUR BACK!
Tips to prevent low back injuries while shoveling:
- Warm up before shoveling: warm up for 5-10 minutes before shoveling by walking or completing dynamic stretches.
- Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that's too long makes the weight at the end heavier.
- Shovel selection: a curved handle or adjustable handle length can minimize bending and a small lightweight plastic blade can minimize the weight of the shovel.
- Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help prevent "next-day back fatigue."
- Avoid excessive twisting because the spine cannot tolerate twisting as well as it can tolerate other movements.
- Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you are lifting with your legs.
- Push snow when possible to avoid repetitive lifting.
- Take frequent breaks while shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back. Take a break for 1-2 minutes every 10-15 minutes or more often if needed.
- Stretching your back into extension will help reverse the excessive forward bending of shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.
- Use adequate footwear and use sand or salt to prevent slipping on ice.
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