Take your time, shovel the right way to avoid back pain in Laurel this winter

back pain in Laurel

December 27, 2019

Love it or hate it, winter is here.  With it comes the extra preparation needed just to leave the house, a moratorium on some of your favorite outdoor activities, and at one point or another, snow.  People tend to have mixed reactions when the white fluffy stuff starts falling, but most would agree that shoveling driveways and walkways after big storms is something they’d rather not have to do.  Wherever you stand, shoveling still has to get done, and there are right and wrong ways of going about it.  So this winter, be sure you’re taking the necessary precautions with a smart approach to shoveling in order to avoid back pain in Laurel.

One of the biggest issues with shoveling snow is that many individuals will rush through the job in order to get it done as quickly as possible.  While this may allow you to return to the warmth of your home sooner, it also makes you far more vulnerable to injuring yourself in the process.  Using bad form and hurrying through shoveling duties can put stress on the lower back and is a common culprit of painful muscle strains.

All the twisting, turning, and bending that’s involved in shoveling can damage the back muscles when done over and over and without any breaks.  This is primarily on account of these muscles not being used regularly and then being put through aggressive, straining movements that are not great for the back.  The most common outcome of all this pressure on the structures supporting the spine is low back pain, and in extreme cases, it may even lead to a herniated disc.

The good news is that you can take some simple steps to significantly reduce your risk for low back pain in Laurel and other shoveling-related injuries this winter.  Keeping these 9 tips in mind once the snow inevitably starts piling up will help to ensure that you’re shoveling safely and properly.  Doing so may mean the process will take a bit longer, but it’ll also increase your chances of having a pain-free shoveling experience throughout the winter:

9 snow-shoveling safety tips to help you avoid low back pain in Laurel

  1. Invest in an ergonomically designed shovel with a curved or adjustable handle and small, lightweight blade, which will make shoveling much easier
  2. Stretch your back and warm up the body with a brisk walk before shoveling, and be sure to take frequent breaks throughout each session to stretch and hydrate
  3. Start shoveling slowly, and gradually increase the workload as your muscles warm up; don’t rush into it or move too quickly while shoveling
  4. Practice good posture: use the same techniques used while lifting heavy objects (bend from the knees instead of the waist, lift with legs), keep your back straight and always face the snow you’re lifting with your shoulders and hips square
  5. Avoid twisting your torso or tossing heavy loads of snow; take smaller scoops and push the heavier ones to the side
  6. Try to shovel newer, fresher snow while avoiding older snow and ice
  7. If you do have to lift a large load of snow, grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as possible and the other firmly on the handle
  8. Wear shoes or boots with good tread to avoid slipping on snow or ice
  9. If you experience any extreme shortness of breath and/or chest pain, stop shoveling immediately; be aware of these and other signs of a heart attack, and seek out emergency medical attention if you notice any of them

If you do happen to experience any back pain in Laurel while shoveling, under no circumstances should you push through it.  This can make the pain worse, and possibly render you helpless for a longer period of time.  Instead, stop shoveling and take some time to rest.  And if the pain continues for an extended period, we strongly recommend that you come in to see us so we can determine what’s wrong and how to address it.  Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services at 301-844-6427 to schedule an appointment at any of our four clinics in Laurel, Hyattsville, Glenn Dale/Bowie, or Silver Spring, MD, or you can click here for more information on safe shoveling techniques.