Prevent Back Pain from Shoveling Snow
Back pain from shoveling snow — pretty common, right? Unfortunately, it’s all too common. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to prevent back pain from shoveling further than the advice of, “use your legs, not your back”?
Often, someone “throws their back out” from shoveling snow not because shoveling in inherently bad, rather because they don’t have the physical capacity for it.
Think about it: how often do you shovel or dig? Unless shoveling or digging the dirt is your occupation, then rarely. The truth is when it comes time for the first few snowfalls our bodies are not prepared for the repetitive physical endeavor.
Not to mention, if we’re using less than ideal form when shoveling, it’s a matter of “when,” not “if” your back will bother you. The bigger the driveway, the more shoveling repetitions needed, thus the greater the risk of a back injury.
Back Pain and Shoveling Snow Tips
You got the two main tips of how to prevent back pain in the video: use your hips and take breaks. But what else could you do this winter to reduce your risk of an episode of back pain, sciatica, or other muscle and joint pain?
Use a Good Shovel
Yes, using a good shovel is underrated as it will reduce the amount of load your body has to absorb, thus reducing your risk of an injury.
I have found the ones with the curvy handle — as you see in the video — help you create leverage without subjecting your back to excessive stress. For a lack of a better description, it’s an ergonomic handle for shoveling snow.
Also, a shovel with a metal edge at the bottom is useful to reduce the amount push-back you get from plowing through the snow and hitting some ice. I’m not a shovel expert, but I don’t believe all snow shovels have the metal edge. However, getting stopped in your track by hitting ice is not fun!
Get a Back Brace
I hate to say it as I don’t like devices unless absolutely needed, but using a brace as a “crutch” may be a good call.
If you haven’t worked out in a while or have a history of low back pain flare-ups a brace to support your
back while using your hips and taking a break could be what get you to finish the driveway, Scott-free.
Are You Strength Training?
Speaking of working out, are you working out? If you’re working out, are you strength training?
Exercise is the closest thing to a miracle pill. However, to some people exercise looks like running on a treadmill or gliding on an elliptical only.
Contrary to popular belief, strength training is just as good (if not better) for general weight loss and fitness as “cardio”. Not to mention, strength training can help prevent back pain episodes.
There are many benefits to strength training even one time per week and moderate resistance. Regarding shoveling fresh powder, if you’re strength training you likely possess the physical capacity (how much your body can handle) and the functional competency (form) to hip hinge in repetition. This is even truer if you’re working or have worked with a coach or trainer.
Not buying the strength training tip? Have at it with this in-depth article.
Invest in a Snowblower
I know — this is kind of a cop-out. Seriously though, if you have a big driveway and you’re “too old for this crap,” just get a snowblower or borrow your neighbor’s until they tell you to buy your own!
Prevent Back Pain By Hiring it Out
Another cop-out, but time is money. Not to mention the costs that you incur with a major physical set back, i.e., back pain!