Welcome to the Cambridge Physiotherapy & Rehab Center

Shoveling and Back Care
 
As the seasons change, we can forget things from the year before. In winter, we may underestimate the preparations needed to tackle the snow and ice. And most times we might forget how to take care of our backs when it comes to maintaining our sidewalk or driveway.
Muscle strain from shoveling snow is very common. Snow shoveling injuries include acute back pain and the straining of the lower back muscles from overexertion while shoveling snow. Lower back pain can be restrained all by the way we shovel.
 
The following snow removal tips can help you to avoid low back injuries and pain during the snowy winter season.
 
Pick the Right Shovel
An ergonomic shovel can help take some of the effort out of snow removal chores.
• A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle will minimize painful bending.
• A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.
 
Limber up
It may be strange to you to limber up and warm those muscles, but it’s so important.
Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Warm up for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity.
• Get your blood moving! Take a brisk walk, do some jumping jacks, or march in one spot for 5 minutes. 
• After, stretch your low back and hamstrings with some gentle stretching exercises.
• Give yourself a body hug that you hold for 30 - 60 seconds.
 
Use Ergonomic Lifting Techniques
Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting the snow shovel is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic lifting techniques:
• Always face towards the object you intend to lift 
• Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight.
• Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that is too heavy for you.
When gripping the shovel, keep your hands about 12 inches apart to provide greater stability and minimize the chances of injuring your low back.
 
Pace Yourself
Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less exhausting than shoveling a large pile at once.
• If possible, removing snow over a period of days will lessen the strain on the back and arms.
• In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than shoveling the full depth at once.
• When shoveling, take a break for a minute or two every 10-15 minutes or if you feel overworked. Stretch your arms, shoulders, and back to keep them warm and flexible when taking a break.
 
Keep Your Feet on the Ground
Slippery conditions can lead to slipping and/or falls.
• Shoes or boots with exceptional treads will help to reduce injuries from slipping.
• Spread sand, rock salt, or kitty litter on your sidewalk or driveway to increase traction and reduce slipping on the ice.
 
If Possible, Stop Shoveling - Use a Snow Blower Instead
When used properly, a snow blower can put less stress on your low back. 
Keeping these procedures in mind this winter season will help lessen the chances of creating new back problems or worsening your low back pain, and hopefully make your winter a healthier and more enjoyable experience.
 
If you have injured your back this season come in for an assesment to see how we can help you get back to the things you love this winter. Book an appointment or ask us any quetsions by calling 519-219-5428, or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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