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Back Pain from Snow Shoveling



With winter approaching, many in Northwest Indiana are preparing for the cold and snow. Shoveling driveways can be a strenuous task, with mounds of snow blocking streets and sometimes making it difficult to leave. Snow removal is a necessary task, but improper technique can sometimes lead to back pain. We at Motus Integrative Health are here to support you this winter by providing tips to maintain your health and prevent back pain after shoveling.  

Protecting Yourself from Back Pain

Sometimes the best cure for back pain is prevention. Here are seven tips to protect your back while shoveling: 

1.  Remember that shoveling snow is a workout.

If you have concerns about your health or are experiencing symptoms such as back pain, you may wish to talk to a physician before beginning. 

2.  Stretch first.

Getting moving can help warm up your muscles before activity. You can start by walking and swinging your arms gently. 

3.  Lift with your legs, not your back.

Proper shoveling technique is crucial to preventing injury. The CDC recommends choking up on your shovel, with the blade as close to your body as possible. Remember to bend with your knees, then push up with your legs (not your upper body), and avoid twisting your body. 

4.  Pace yourself.

Throughout shoveling, take the occasional break. In addition to following proper technique, it can be important to take your time and avoid lifting large amounts of snow at a time.

5.  Use the right tool. 

Shovels that have small, plastic blades weigh less and limit you to taking smaller scoops of snow at a time. Snow, especially when it is wet, can be deceptively heavy. That weight, along with the repeated motion of shoveling, puts pressure on your back. According to Best Health magazine, six inches of snowfall on an average driveway can weigh between 1,100 and 1,500 pounds.

6.  Shovel later in the day.

A combination of natural swelling and inactivity during sleep make early morning the most common time to hurt your back. Spend some time getting up and moving before you get started.

7.  If you are in pain, stop shoveling. 

Stopping activity can help prevent further injury. Take a rest from shoveling, and gently stretch the muscle. Hot showers, or repeated applications of heat followed by ice can help reduce pain. To ice a muscle injury, use an ice pack or slush bath for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, as often as every two to three hours.  

If the pain persists, it’s a good idea to see a physician

Treatment for Back Pain

Sometimes, even with the best attempts at prevention, strains or other injuries can still occur. Motus Integrative Health offers a number of services to help relieve pain so that you can feel your best. At Motus Health, we emphasize a patient-centered approach to understanding the cause of the issues at hand. We work with the intent of helping you CORRECT the problem. To find out more, contact us for a FREE consultation with one of our experts. 


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