Protect Your Back While Shoveling Some of us love it and some of us hate it—but snow is a part of many of our lives. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that back and shoulder injuries caused by shoveling are in the tens of thousands each year. Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital mined through almost two decades worth of data and concluded that an average of 11,500 visits to the emergency room per year are snow-shoveling related. The vast majority of those injuries were low-back injuries; the most serious incidents were cardiac-related injuries, totaling 7 percent of the cases.

And if you live in a warm weather state, don’t think you’re free and clear of snow-shoveling duties; last January, snow covered 49 U.S. states at once! No matter where you live, keep yourself and your back safe with these proper shoveling tips.

Warm up. Prepare for shoveling as you would any other workout; stretch out for at least five minutes before you begin. Dress in many layers that you can peel away if you get too warm and remember to cover your extremities, too.

Get good shoes. It might not seem like it—but your shoes matter when shoveling! Choose boots with great traction to prevent you from slipping and to give yourself better grip as you push the snow to the side.

Give your shovel a spray. Pick up an inexpensive can of Teflon spray at your local home improvement store to have on hand. Give your shovel a quick coat before heading out.

Choose an ergonomic shovel. You’ve probably seen the shovels with a slight bend in the handle—these are ergonomic shovels which give you a better angle and prevent you from bending over.

Protect Your Back While Shoveling
Mattress Advisor testing pressure relief on a mattress using a pressure mapping film.

Push, don’t throw. Many people scoop and throw shovelfuls of snow to one side, but don’t—that’s the number one mistake people make while shoveling. Protect your back from injury by pushing snow, instead of picking it up and twisting.

Lift with your legs. If you do have to lift, make sure to lift from your legs, with bent knees. Avoid using your back to hoist heavy snow.

Tackle bits at a time. Focus on one area, clear it and then come back to it. Experts recommend shoveling in 10 minute intervals.

Take a break. Shoveling is extremely hard work for your whole body, including your heart. If you’re tired, take a break. The snow will still be there when you’re feeling refreshed.

If you do get injured, call your chiropractor right away so you can get ahead of the pain and prevent yourself from missing any days at work—or missing out on any winter fun!