Shoveling Tips for Your Back
Well, it finally happened. Our first snow of the season has fallen, and like it or not it probably will not be the last. For those of us that don't have the modern convenience of a snow blower, its time to start preparing our bodies for SHOVELING.
As therapists, we see shoveling related injuries frequently. The unfortunate thing about most of these injuries is that they are easily preventable. Here are a few simple tips to protect your back.
Start at your foundation - Your core plays an important role in the prevention of low back injuries. At the initiation of our core stability programs we focus on the Transverse Abdominus or TA contraction. The TA is your body's natural back brace and helps to prevent injuries. The contraction of this muscle is extremely simple and effective. He is a basic overview of the muscle and how to activate it: Click here for link
Technique is everything - The movements involved in traditional shoveling can create a lot of stress on the back. The easiest way to avoid this increased stress is to adapt your technique. Most shoveling injuries occur because of the combination of bending and twisting. Working to avoid these combined movements can help immensely with injury prevention. Next time you are shoveling, try taking smaller scoops and step into your pitch.
Adapt your tools - There are many different alternatives to the traditional snow shovel, that can assist in protecting your back. Your local hardware store should carry a variety of styles of shovels. The one I like the most will look similar to a lawn mower in that you push the snow instead of scooping. In addition to a strong core, a little external assistance can help greatly with injury prevention. So if you have a back brace put it on and if you don't have one think about getting one from your local pharmacy. A brace does not take the place of a good strong core, but every little bit helps protect the low back.
These are quick and easy tips for shoveling, but often the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in performance and safety. So, this winter time, be proactive. Take a little time to build a strong foundation, think technique, and look for safer alternatives, and go enjoy that wonderful snow!