little_kid_shoveling_snowAs temperatures continue to decline and with last years winter fresh in mind, it’s important to remember to take extra caution with your body this winter. Besides the obvious possibility of slipping and hurting your back, you also need to take care when shoveling snow and scraping heavy ice. When shoveling snow and ice you are putting your body in awkward positions, twisting, lifting and bending forward can leave you vulnerable to injury.

The most common injuries as a result of these activities include disk herniation or protrusion, and injured or strained muscles. These injuries are of particular risk to those between the ages of 30 and 50 because with aging comes degenerative changes in the spine and these factors  collectively overwork the back.

To prevent injury this winter here are some methods of lifting and bending to relieve back tension:

  • Use a “back saver shovel” that curves up and back. The scoop is lower so that you don’t have to bend over as much.

  • Try to lift while keeping the back straight or slightly arched, draw strength from your legs rather than your back.

  • Avoid twisting at all costs. As you move to unload the shovel, move one foot in the direction that you will be throwing the snow, this will take away the need to twist your back and keep your spine straight.

  • Pick up small loads of snow.

  • Stop frequently and stand up straight, bend backwards, lift your arms and reach, or walk to change back position.