Tis the season to get back pain… especially if Winter for you means shoveling snow and you don’t use the proper shoveling technique!

As physios, lower back pain is a condition we see a lot of. And every Winter, we hear so many stories of people putting their backs out shoveling driveways or sidewalks.

One of the main reasons shoveling snow can strain muscles and cause other stress related injuries is a lack of proper shoveling technique.

In the same way, when it comes to lifting an object, you’re advised to bend your knees and use your legs and not bend at the waist and use your back, using the proper technique when clearing snow can save you a lot of grief and pain too!

So, with all the snow around and more to come over the next few months, here are a few quick, simply tips to keep you shoveling safely, without putting injuring your back.

Since shoveling snow is actually a fairly strenuous activity for your body, like preparing for any strenuous, physical exercise, do some warming up first. You can warm up inside by stretching your legs, doing some simple bending warm ups and generally preparing your muscles and back for the workout ahead.

When you’re ready to start shoveling, make sure you stand with your feet apart, approximately the width of your hips, for balance.

Keep the shovel close to your body so you’re not stretching and space your hands apart to increase leverage.

And yes, since you are lifting, bend your knees! This will keep your body more upright and force more of the stress onto your legs and not your back.

Also, use those stomach muscles while lifting and shoveling. Snow shoveling is actually a pretty strenuous core workout.

When you go to lift or throw snow, avoid twisting your body. Turn your body or actually step into the direction you wish to go, rather than twisting your upper torso from the waist.

Finally, instead of lifting a big scoop of snow and trying to propel it a distance away by throwing it, walk the snow over to where you want to dump it. It might take a few seconds longer, but your back will thank you for it!

Unfortunately, when it comes to Winter there’s not much we can do to stop the snow from falling, but we can help make clearing it easier on your body! And if you do happen to strain your back from shoveling, be sure to give us a call at ProActive.

Happy shoveling and happy holidays from all of us at ProActive Physiotherapy!