Thanks to our friendly neighborhood groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, we have six more weeks of winter. Which means, as we resilient Western New Yorkers all know, more snow.
Shoveling the wrong way can put some strain on your back, leading to a neck or back injury. The spinal team in offices of William Capicotto, M.D., in Buffalo and Snyder, N.Y., have accumulated a couple tips to help you shovel safer.
Push. Don’t lift.
You don’t need to show off how macho you are. Lifting unnecessary weight is one of the easiest ways to strain your back. Push the snow when you can, as opposed to lifting. Pushing is less straining on the back when done correctly. And, there’s plenty of snow where that came from.
Take breaks and stretch.
It’s easy to strain your muscles if you don’t take a rest every once and a while. This is why it’s very important to take breaks and stretch. Be sure to take a few minutes before and after shoveling to stretch. Even if you bend correctly (at the hips) you should take breaks every 5 minutes to stretch in the opposite direction by standing up straight for a few seconds. This will help prevent you from throwing your back.
Don’t throw the snow over your shoulder.
Repetitive twisting is very straining to your neck and back muscles. Bending and twisting motions are very strenuous for the back. Instead, try to move in the direction that you are shoveling.
Don’t force it.
Take breaks if you feel pain, or moderate muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue can change your body mechanics and make even the most ergonomic of people use their backs to lift. Listen to your body. This also applies to snow blowers. Don’t force the machine, work with it. Snow blowing can be just as taxing on your back as snow shoveling. As with any activity, if you feel any shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, or severe muscle pain you should stop and seek professional medical attention at William Capicotto, M.D. Shoveling doesn’t control you. Take control of your life by scheduling an appointment.