It is that snowy time of year where shoveling is, unfortunately, a chore that needs completing. There are, however, some strategies that can help you best avoid back injuries that often come with shoveling.
Shovel. It is important to pick the right snow shovel. The best type of shovel to help avoid stress on the back is one that is lightweight to avoid increased repetitions of heavy lifting and moving. A shovel with an adjustable handle or curved handle will also help reduce the amount of bending needed.
Preparation. Another good idea is to warm up before you go out to shovel. Warm, flexible and loose muscles are less likely than cold, tight muscles to become injured. A few minutes of walking, marching in place, and some dynamic stretches or even calisthenics to target the muscles is a good way to get the body ready for more strenuous activity such as shoveling.
Ergonomics. Use good lifting techniques. Avoid bending from the back, and instead bend your knees and lift from your legs. Avoid twisting your back and if you must lift the shovel, keep it close to your body to avoid extending your arms to throw the snow. Try to avoid throwing snow from your shovel to different areas. It is always less strain to the back when the snow is thrown closer to you instead of farther away. We always think that the less loads we do, the faster we get things done. Well, when the snow is wet and heavy, heavy loads lead to higher chances of strain. Lighten your loads and do twice as many. This over time helps to protect the back instead of strain it.
Pacing. As we get older, we generally think like we were back in our 20's. It was nothing for us to shovel the driveway when we were 20 in 20 minutes. Well, as we get older, we need to make sure we pace ourselves properly, so we don't hurt ourselves. Taking some breaks and resting throughout the process is always a good idea. Making sure we are hydrated also is important. Having a tall glass of water beforehand will keep you properly hydrated.
Recovery. Afterwards, make sure you change out of the wet clothes and heat up your body with a nice warm shower. While in the shower, move your body with the heat to stretch yourself out. Shoulders back, neck rotations, mild lumbar bending, etc. are movements that you can do that will help slowly stretch out those muscles that are tight from shoveling.