Winter is one of our most beautiful seasons. The blanket of white that decorates our landscape creates a pristine environment. But with winter comes shovelling. We see a lot of patients with lower back injuries due to shovelling improperly. Here are some health tips to ensure you go pain free this winter.

  • Use a shovel that is the appropriate height. A shovel that is too short and forces you to lean forward further will place more strain on your back.
  • Keep your arms close to your body as much as possible. The further away the arms and shovel are, the higher the load on the muscles and joints doing the work.
  • Prevent rounding of the low back (i.e. leaning forward as if touching your toes). This will help support the joints in the back and keep the back in its strongest position, which is a bit of curve in the opposite direction to rounding. An easy way to accomplish this is to keep the chest up and look forward. This will automatically place your low back in a good position.
  • Avoid holding your breath while throwing the snow. Upper body exercise can raise blood pressure higher than lower body exercises, and holding your breath will further increase blood pressure. Try breathing out a bit instead, all while keeping your core engaged.
  • Take your time. Listen to your body and if you begin to feel exhausted, take a break.
  • Dress in layers. This will help keep you warm and dry.
  • Try shoveling with the opposite “hand” at times. If you’re left handed, try shoveling right handed. Performing activities repetitively the same way can encourage the development of muscle imbalances, so try switching it up sometimes.
  • Use proper footwear with appropriate grip to help prevent a slip on the ice.
  • Use an appropriate size shovel, or in other words, don’t lift more than you can handle.
  • Hire the neighbours kid.
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