Shoveling Safety – Part 1


New Jersey snow is serious snow. We don’t get champagne powder like they do in Colorado. We get heavy, wet snow, and lots of it. When it’s time to get to school or work and you have piles of the stuff to fight through, you have to do it right or it will hurt your back.

What are the most common injuries from shoveling snow?

A 17-year study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine discovered that over 195,00 people went to the emergency room for snow shoveling injuries within that 17-year period The most common injuries are as follows:

  • Overworked muscles, falls, being hit with a shovel
  • Soft tissue injuries, especially in the lower back
  • Cuts and broken bones, especially in the arms and hands

As you can see, heading out to shovel doesn’t always end well. The thing is, you can put a bandage on a cut or a cast on your arm, but if you hurt your back, things can get a lot more complex. An injury in your back can affect your hand, neck, or leg. At the Spine Institute of North America, we know that too many people exit winter with back injuries from shoveling heavy snow – don’t let it happen to you!

How do you shovel safely?

Warm up right

It’s tempting to just get out there and shovel, especially if you’re trying to get out the door. The issue is, cold, tense muscles get injured easily while warm, flexible muscles can handle work without getting into trouble. Make sure your back is warmed up by walking briskly  or doing some other full-body activity for a few minutes. After that, carefully stretch your lower back and hamstrings to ensure you don’t pull anything when you lift that first load of snow.

Use the right technique

As a rule, it’s better to push the snow to the side rather than lift it. However, when you have to lift it, here are some important ergonomic tips to keep in mind:

  • Bend at your hips, never your back. Push your chest forward and out. Bend your knees and lift with your legs, keeping your back straight the whole time.
  • When you lift a shovel-full of snow, put one hand as close to the blade as possible and keep the other hand on the handle. This ties into the next point.
  • Keep weight as close to your body as possible. Forcing your bod to lift a weight that’s far from it puts huge strain on your back. Even if you’re throwing snow, those few instants can cause damage, which leads us to our next point.
  • If you need to get the snow to another location, it’s better to walk over and dump it than throw it.
  • Face whatever you’re lifting head-on. Never lift something sideways, as this puts immensely imbalanced strain on your body.

If you have back troubles, we can help. We offer only world-class care. Contact our world-class back health center in New Jersey for epidural steroid injection and beyond.

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