Posted: 25 Jan '18

Shovel Smart: Tips to Prevent Injuries

You don’t need to be a weightlifter to have lower back pain; You don’t have to be a tennis player to get tennis elbow (you’d be surprised how many people ask). Some of the most common muscle and joint issues are caused by regular, routine activities like sitting with poor posture or—just as common here in Edmonton—shovelling snow.

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Yep, that light, fluffy white stuff can cause serious muscle, ligament, tendon, and lower back issues—some of the most common snow shovelling injuries. Thankfully, many of those injuries are simply due to poor posture or harmful habits and, as such, they’re completely avoidable. Next time you’re out walking after a snowfall, watch for people shovelling snow. You’ll likely notice them putting unnecessary strain on their spines and exerting A-LOT of excessive energy.

Here are a few tips to help make shovelling snow easier and less stressful on your body. Let us know how you feel afterward and be safe out there.

Plan ahead

As tempting as it may be, don’t just throw on your coat and grab the nearest shovel. Make sure all of your equipment—including your body—is ready. Cold weather can make you want to work faster, so warm up your body by stretching for a few minutes before shovelling.

Also, research the most comfortable shovel for you. Some people still prefer the traditional straight-handled style, but many of our clients praise their ergonomic snow shovels with curved or flexible handles.

Keep your back straight

Don’t put extra stress on your back. Shovelling snow is such a repetitive activity that we often don’t realize just how much movement is involved. Proper posture today leads to a healthy back tomorrow, so keep your back as straight as possible and try not to bend over to scoop the snow.

Let your legs do the work

“Lift with your legs.” We’ve heard this phrase since the day before forever, but somehow we often forget. Your legs are generally better suited to handle heavy loads than your back is, so distribute your weight comfortably and rely on your legs to do the heavy lifting.

Don’t overextend

Bend your elbows slightly to keep the shovel closer to your body. Overextending with a heavy shovel full of snow puts unnecessary stress on your back and throws off your balance, which can lead to a fall.

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Pain relief from snow-shovelling injuries

Of course, we’ve all been shovelling, lifting, and heaving snow for years—many times without considering our posture. For minor strains or injuries, ointments and home remedies for pain can provide some short-term relief—we’ll never rule out the benefits of a soothing hot bath or a cold ice pack in the right situation.

For injuries that are more urgent, concerning or if they don’t go away, modern chiropractic treatments like radial shockwave therapy are proven to relieve pain and speed up healing time. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, tennis elbow or any joint, muscle or soft tissue injury, contact us at (780) 466-7111 to make an appointment with one of our chiropractors.

Enjoy the snow!