November 7, 2014
In many regions, the coming of winter brings with it snow and the need to remove it. Back injuries from snow shoveling are a common occurrence because many people simply do not know how to best take care of their back while engaging in a strenuous activity. People that work in jobs that are require heavy lifting typically receive specific training to help prevent back injuries. A back injury can potentially affect the person for the rest of their life. A person should always err on the side of protecting their physical health.
Let’s take a look at how to keep your back healthy while shoveling snow!
*Choose The Right Tool For The Job
There are several makes and models of snow shovels out there. Shop around and find a model that is comfortable for you to use and suitable for your height. A shovel with a telescopic handle can work well for finding the appropriate height.
Ergonomic snow shovels are an excellent choice. The bend in the shaft takes strain off your back by putting your hands at an equal height, providing leverage that traditional shovels do not offer. A lightweight blade on the shovel helps reduce the total weight you will be moving.
The best snow shovel will allow you to clear snow without needing to bend over very far or at the knees. A little bend is okay, deep bends can results in injuries.
*Take The Time To Stretch And Warm Up
People who are used to dealing with snow don’t often realize just how strenuous of an activity it can be. You just get used to it after awhile. Complacency leads to lack of attention which leads to injuries in any vocation.
Take the time to do some warm ups and stretch out. Stretches that target the hamstrings and lower back are arguably the most important because they will affect the way you move while shoveling. Upper body, arms, and shoulders are also important since they will be exerting the force to move the snow.
A few minutes of stretching can potentially save you weeks, months, or years of back pain and misery.
*Move Properly With The Weight
Training for proper movement is typically provided by employers to workers who will be dealing with weight. A homeowner shoveling snow can protect their back health by observing the same rules.
1. NEVER twist your torso while holding weight. Your back is designed to support weight while straight, not twisted. Twisting your torso to push snow out of the way or throw it to the side is a sure way to injure your lower back. Keep your shoulders pointed in the same direction as your toes.
2. Practice proper lifting technique. Do not bend your back far with a heavier load, always lift with the legs and keep your back straight. This is where the benefit of an ergonomic snow shovel comes in. They let you keep a good lifting posture while picking up the snow.
3. Ensure you have good footing available. Boots with good traction will keep you from slipping and trying to re-balance with weight on your shovel. If you don’t have good boots, salt the area you’re clearing as you clear it. The salt will melt off ice and provide better traction.
*Always Protect Your Back Health First
Winters come and go. Don’t jeopardize your back as it is very difficult to get healed properly. If you already have health or back problems, it may be more prudent to invest in a snow blower or pay a professional to plow.
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