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How to Prevent Back Injuries While Shoveling Snow

With winter on the horizon, many people across the country are beginning to dread the idea of having to clear snow from their driveways. Despite being an additional nuisance to your morning routine, shoveling snow can actually be a convenient way to get a great workout done if you know the correct way to shovel snow. Combine this chore with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and you’re in for a dreadful few months...but, it doesn’t have to be that way! 

You’re probably aware of the dangers of unshoveled driveways and sidewalks, such as slipping on ice or tripping over large chunks of snow. However, shoveling with poor form and the incorrect techniques can also cause severe back and neck injuries — nearly 12,000 Americans wind up in the ER each winter due to shoveling related injuries.  

This guide will give you the necessary information on how you can most effectively shovel snow while ensuring your back remains ache-free! 

Get the right equipment. 

Aside from having a warm hat, cozy gloves, and an insulated jacket, one of the most overlooked pieces of attire is a pair of sturdy winter boots with lots of traction. Having a reliable pair of boots will prevent you from slipping on any hidden black ice, leading to potential back or spinal injuries. If you’re looking

Tip: Spray your plastic shovel with cooking spray to prevent snow from sticking to it.

Learn the proper technique. 

Once you’re bundled up from head-to-toe and have a trusty shovel by your side, it’s time to go outside and get to work. But first, not so fast! Be sure to do 5-10 minutes of light stretches prior to heading out the door. This will ensure that you’re limber and ready to go. Here are a few of our favorites.

Proper shoveling technique:

  1. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs. Repeatedly bending over at the waist is a recipe for injuring your back. 
  2. Keep the shovel close to you as you’re lifting up the snow. This will reduce the amount of weight put on your back.
  3. Always position your feet closest to the area you’re shoveling. 

If possible, try to go outside and shovel multiple times throughout each snowstorm. This might seem counterintuitive, but if you wait until the end of the storm there will be more snow accumulated and a higher likelihood of throwing out your back due to increased weight. If there’s an abundant amount of snow and it’s wet, refrain from clearing it all in one scoop. Instead, skim off the first half of the snow in the first scoop and clear off the remainder with a second scoop. 

Prevent injuries before they happen. 

With a few more weeks until winter is in full-swing, now is the perfect time to start increasing your proprioception abilities. Simply put, proprioception is defined as “the body’s ability to sense its location, movements, and actions.” Strengthening your body’s ability to be aware of its surroundings can play a vital role in preventing accidental stumbles and injuries. There are a variety of ways to improve this ability, such as the use of a one-legged wedge.

We hope these tips keep you and your family safe throughout the winter months! We’re constantly rolling out additional tutorials, helpful tips, and other resources to help you get the most out of your StrongTek products. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get our most recent articles delivered straight to your inbox. As a bonus, subscribers will receive exclusive offers and inside information about upcoming products.