Avoiding Winter-Related Back Pain and Injury

Nicole Amell, LPN, Clinical Lead

The tri-state area can be unpredictable when it comes to winter weather. Along with the risk of icy roads and walkways, common winter injuries seen at Tower Health Urgent Care include back and shoulder pain from shoveling snow. Fortunately, there are methods to prevent this type of injury and muscle fatigue.

The following is a list of recommendations to help you endure your outdoor chores this season:

  • Use a shovel of the proper height to avoid bending your back. Ideally, the top of the shovel should approximately line up with your elbow (when arms are at your side).
  • Minimize back stress by keeping your knees bent and lift with your leg muscles. Keep your back straight and avoid arching it as much as possible.
  • Reduce the amount of snow you lift with the shovel. If the snow is deep, remove only a few inches at a time, rather than the whole pile at once.
  • Keep the shovel of snow you are lifting close to your body.
  • Avoid twisting your back. Instead, pivot your body together and face the direction in which you are aiming.
  • Walk to place the load of snow down for removal, rather than extending your body or twisting to toss it.
  • Take small, frequent breaks to prevent exertion.

Seek medical care if injury occurs or pain persists.

Stay warm and remember… the first day of spring is only 28 days away!

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