As the snow piles up through early spring, keep these expert tips in mind to avoid hurting yourself while digging out your walkway or your car.

Show shovel safety is no joke. Over 11,000 snow shoveling injuries are treated by emergency room doctors each year in the US. The most common injuries sustained while digging out after snowstorms include ailments of the lower back, shoulder, neck, legs, ankles, and feet.

As the snow piles up through early spring, keep these expert tips in mind to avoid hurting yourself while digging out your walkway or your car.

Is It Safe for You to Shovel?

Not everyone is fit for shoveling snow. There are many people who should not shovel because of high risk of injuries. According to Allen A. Conrad, DC, a chiropractor in North Wales, PA, if any of the following conditions apply to you, you should refrain from snow shoveling:

  • Heart conditions
  • Herniated discs/sciatica
  • Recent surgery
  • Surgical implants
  • Over age 60
  • Any recent sprain or strain injury
  • Pregnancy

Expert Tips for Staying Safe While Shoveling Snow

We heard from several experts, including chiropractors, physical therapists, and podiatrists, about the best ways to avoid injury while shoveling snow. Check out 10 tips for snow shovel safety here:

Stretch First: “Be sure to do some warm-­up stretching for muscles that aren’t used to the shoveling motion,” said David Dwyer, DC, a chiropractor and President of the Rhode Island Chiropractic Society. Try a warm-up routine “that involves moving your arms, twisting your torso, and small-range bending at the hips and knees,” said John Baio, DPT, a physical therapist in Farmingville, NY.

Shovel During the Day: “If possible, avoid shoveling snow when it’s already dark outside,” Dr. Petkov added. Being able to see where you are walking while shoveling can also help you avoid a dangerous fall.

Bend Your Knees. “This is key to maximizing your shoveling performance,” said Dr. Baio. “Lift with a small bend in your knees while keeping your back straight. Keep the scoop of the shovel as close to your body as possible when lifting. If the shovel is away from your body, you will need extra force to move it.”

Keep Your Body Upright: “When shoveling, most individuals have the tendency to bend forward and push the snow far out in front of themselves,” said Chris Tomshack, DC, a chiropractor in Vermilion, OH. “This posture causes all of the pressure to go to one’s lower back. Instead, keep your body upright and hands in close while pushing the snow in a straight line… Along with keeping your body in a straight line, do not twist your body when tossing the snow. Twisting can hurt your shoulders and back – creating an imbalance and leading to muscle spasms.”

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