Winter is upon us and that means shovelling snow! Snow shoveling is a high level aerobic activity that can cause many injuries in the old and young if not done properly. It is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle and joint strain and sprain in the shoulders and low back and certain cardiovascular complications if a person is out of condition or does not lift properly. Generally, children younger than school age and elderly with certain health issues, such as cardiovascular risk, high blood pressure, balance disorder, etc, should NOT shovel snow.

w. Individuals between the ages of 20-50 years are at a higher risk of low back injury shoveling snow due to the fact they don’t realize they are out of condition. Snow shoveling can be a good aerobic workout if done properly and if a person is in proper shape it is recommended to shovel for 15 minutes a session.

Here are some tips for avoiding winter injuries:

  • Have a snack before you go outside for extra calories to burn in the cold
  • Use sunscreen on your face; snow reflects up to 85% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays
  • Dress warmly in layers, using wool not cotton, and bring an extra set of gloves
  • Shovel small loads of snow and be sure to bend and lift with your legs and not your back
  • Use a shovel that is the right length or ergonomically correct, your back should be straight while lifting the snow
  • Never twist to throw the snow, always move your feet and keep your back straight
  • Take frequent rests; walk around, stand up straight or even lean slightly back to counteract the forward bending motion of shovelling.
  • Remember that when the cold begins to feel unpleasant it is
    probably time to go in and get warm or change out of a wet outer layer

Get out there and enjoy winter and the snow! If you have any questions about proper shoveling techniques come and visit us at Wave Physio!