In the winter months, shoveling is a common trigger for lower back pain. Using proper body mechanics and appropriate shoveling technique can help to prevent these injuries from occurring.
Just like any other form of exercise, it’s important to warm up before going out to shovel. A drastic change in temperature is hard on the muscles and joints of the body, and warming up first may help. Go for a short walk around the block or do jumping jacks in the garage before reaching for the shovel. Stretching the legs and lower back is also beneficial.
Most low back injuries while shoveling occur because of excessive rotation, excessive weight on the shovel, or both. Try to push snow directly in front of you instead of twisting with a loaded shovel. Move close to the location you want to put the snow instead of reaching or “throwing”. Bending with the legs is always better than bending forward from the waist. Using a lighter weight shovel helps with overall weight that needs to be carried.
If you do notice any strain while shoveling, take a break and let your body rest. Using ice or heat afterwards can be helpful in muscle recovery. Getting adjusted can help you recover and prevent injury as well! If your spine is moving properly, you are less likely to compensate and cause overuse injuries. If you’re unsure if you have proper shoveling form, ask your Chiropractor at your next appointment!