Prevent Low Back Pain from Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow often creates low back pain, leg and shoulder soreness and, at times, neck pain this time of year, especially when the snow is heavy and deep.  To avoid such injuries, shovel with the knees bent and back straight AND alternate the side the shovel is held.  Take breaks often by standing and leaning backward gently and rehydrate with fluids to prevent dehydration. 

It is biomechanically safer to, first, push the snow forward, with two hands on the shovel’s handle, while standing erect.  Then, after a row of accumulated snow is formed, bend at the knees to pick up the white stuff alternating the side the shovel is held every ten scoops.  This minimises forward bending, allows each sides of the body to work equally and reduce the chances of injury.  

Often, we start shoveling with the shovel on the most-favorable side and keep it there for the duration of the job.  The best way to change this habit is to START shoveling on the LESS-FAVORED side.  Remembered to switch sides every ten scoops thereafter. 

Hot epsom salt baths are effective after shoveling, as long as the body is not chilled afterward and shoveling does not resume for several hours.  Stir one cup of the salts, found in supermarkets and pharmacies, into dilution, then lay supine with knees bend for ten minutes in the tub.

If you have any questions about this article or the others at Mark.Saracino1@juno.com.www.DrSaracino.com,  “Health Information” link, email

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