5 Tips to Prevent Injury While Shoveling

It looks like another snow storm is in our forecast! As beautiful as the snow is, it can definitely be dangerous! Here are 5 easy tips to help prevent injury when shoveling snow.

 

1. Watch your intensity

Using your upper body is much more cardiovascularly demanding than you would think. We are not as young as we were last year so it is important to know your limits and take frequent breaks when needed. Ask for help from a neighbor if you are getting tired. Most importantly, if you are having chest pain, shortness of breath, or left-sided arm pain, seek immediate medical attention because it could be a heart attack.

2. Lift with your legs.

Brace your core to help stabilize your back. This can be done by gently pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Don’t be bending from your back to lift the snow. Use your knees and your hips to bend and lift with your leg muscles.

3. PIVOT!

Pivot the body along the direction of the foot. If you are trying to dump the snow to the left, keep the left foot facing outward. Pivot the entire body in the direction of the foot so that you are not twisting your spine.

4. Keep the shovel close to the body

This will decrease the load on the spine and the arms. It may make you have to walk a little bit more, but it will be less stress overall.

5. Stay on top of the storm

“Wintry Mix” is a common forecast in our area. Stay on top of the storm by salting your driveway and walkway before the storm begins. If it looks like there is going to be a lot of snow, go out and shovel every couple of inches. That way it is not quite as heavy. Wet or icy snow is a lot heavier than fresh snow.

 

Of course, if you have any questions, call up our office and set up an appointment where we can review these techniques with you. In the state of Virginia, you can see a Doctor of Physical Therapy for 30 days before you need a referral. So come in with any questions you may have!

Author
Alana Hamilton Alana Hamilton is a physical therapist at Advantage Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a proud Hokie from Virginia Tech with a major in Biology and a minor in psychology and sociology. Following graduation, she immediately got her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Radford University. She is an avid fan of Pilates, running, and hiking. On the weekends, she can be found hanging out with her family and baby as well as doing Spartan races with her old physical therapy classmates and friends. She is a big believer that during rehabilitation, "Motion is the Lotion" and that staying active is key to remaining healthy.

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