When it comes time for shoveling snow each year, I see a lot of people in my clinic for back pain.  Shoveling is a very strenuous job in which people can strain their back and even their heart.  So take it easy, if you have a bad heart….don’t do it!!   If you are physically fit enough here are some techniques to make it easier for you to shovel.

~Buy the RIGHT shovel!  Snow is heavy and the bigger the scoop, the more strain on your neck, shoulders and back.  So, buy a strong, plastic shovel that is light weight and with a smaller scoop.

~ The snow shovel with the funny looking Z-shaped shafts are said to be “ergonomic”.  This means they are designed to ease the strain on your lower back by reducing the amount of bending you will do while shoveling.

~ It is always better to push snow, than to lift it.  Push type snow shovels are curved to catch the snow, which allows  you to push it, if the snow is not deep.

~ You must be safe about it and check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to shovel.

~ Dress warmly in layers and wear slip resistant boots.

~ Clear snow early and often.  It is much easier to remove snow in multiple phases.  Take frequent brakes too.

~ Lastly, when lifting snow, bend at the knees with a straight back and when moving snow, walk and dump it if you can, rather than throwing it.

Hopefully, these tips will prevent any injuries to your back or elsewhere and you wont have to come and see me!

~ Pete St.Germain, PT