5 Ways to Protect Your Back When Shoveling Snow

5 Ways to Protect Your Back When Shoveling Snow

Do you have a pile of snow in your walkway, driveway, or around other parts of your house?

Sometimes, you have to do what you must – and this may include SHOVELING SNOW!

Not many people enjoy shoveling snow, but it has to happen! Unfortunately, there are DANGERS and RISKS associated with it.

Ahh, yes, you may have some ideas about this already. According to the American Heart Association, cold weather temperatures and the increased workload on the heart increase the risk of a heart attack when shoveling snow [1]. Your BACK could also suffer from your heart while shoveling snow.

shoveling snow

It may seem like a simple job – I mean, shoveling snow – but don’t be deceived – shoveling snow can be hard work. Yes, the bright white, seemingly cute stuff on your lawn can be wet and heavy! Worse… it can hurt your back while you attempt to shovel it. The number of people who hurts their back each year while shoveling snow is astounding! Did you know that over 11,000 people visit the hospital yearly due to shoveling snow? [2]. Who knew that don’t it could be so risky?

Apart from hurting the back, there have been occasions where people shoveling snow died! Yes… the heart attacks I mentioned earlier… may sound EXTREME, but it does happen, especially when people live sedentary lives and suddenly decide to shovel snow. NO! Not a good idea because the heart and other body parts, including the back, may not be ready for this activity.

So, what can you do about the snow that needs to be shoveled?

You can’t simply ignore it and hope that it melts away. There is GOOD news, though! You can protect your back as you shovel, and we’ll discuss ways through which you can do so. However, it is also important to UNDERSTAND the dangers and risks of shoveling snow.

This knowledge can be essential in keeping YOUR BACK safe! Apart from the back being injured or the heart being overloaded, shoveling snow could also overwork your ligaments, soft tissue, tendons, and muscles. A lot of these tissues keep our backs in good working order. Hence, strains can put unnecessary stress on the back, especially the lower back, which is affected when you bend down to shovel. You could also cut yourself while doing it or get hit by the shovel. Some have fallen on the shovel too! OUCH!! Yes… remember that snowfall can give rise to icy and slippery conditions, so WATCH OUT!

shoveling snow outside

All these dangers and risks associated with shoveling snow can be relevant too when trying to protect your back as you shovel snow. The more you KNOW about protecting yourself during this activity, the more likely you’ll keep your back SAFE! Here are ways to protect your back when shoveling snow!

1. Be Active! Really? Yes, really!

The TRUTH is that being inactive can put you at GREAT RISK, not just with shoveling snow but with almost ANYTHING. Imagine NOT BEING ACTIVE and attempting this activity. So, being active regularly can be a great way to protect your back!

Well, you would give your BACK and BODY a shock!! If you are not active, your back may be in no shape to shovel snow. BUT… what does being ACTIVE mean? Don’t be alarmed! Active does not mean running long marathon races or jumping over hurdles on a track. Instead, being active involves various types of activities where you MOVE!

Examples of activities can include a simple walk, going to the store, doing the dishes, stretching, swimming, basketball, and a variety of other activities that make you abstain from a sedentary lifestyle. Hence, GET UP and MOVE! This can help protect your back when shoveling snow.

skiing snow

2. Get a Good Shovel.

It would help if you had the PROPER tool to do a good job and keep your back safe.

Do you think your shovel is ideal for your snow shoveling task?

It may not be. You need a good shovel to properly and safely shovel snow. Thanks to modern ergonomic studies, research, and IMPROVED product designs, BETTER shovels have emerged that minimize the risks to the body while enabling you to shovel the snow more efficiently. In the past, hand grips for shovels were less than ideal. There were also inefficiencies associated with the handle of the shovel, such as the length of the handle and the impact of the shovel when it makes contact with the snow. Now, in today’s marketplace, shovels with adjustable handles and curved base designs lessen the strain that shoveling snow can have on the back. So, look out for BETTER shovels in your local store!

3. Watch for Slips and Falls.

Another way to hurt your back while shoveling snow is to FALL.

Yes, another big OUCH! Imagine falling and not being able to get up. NOT a fun thought! No, nobody likes falling, and falling on a hard surface can be as painful. Another SCARY aspect related to falling while shoveling snow concerns the PARTIAL or COMPLETE loss of control a person could feel while slipping and falling on ice! The ground could be so slippery that it causes you to lose balance, and before you know it… WOOOSH! Such injuries can be quite severe. Hence, watch for the potential for slips and falls. Place your feet carefully as you shovel. Wear proper shoes and boots. Wear shoes with great traction! Do not stand on slippery ice. ENSURE that your feet are steadily on firm ground!

4. Watch the Pressure You Exert.

In addition to having sure footing on the ground and ensuring that you are not sliding all over the place, watch the force with which you move the shovel, as this could PROPEL you away from what you thought was a solid position.

Let’s see if I can explain this in another way… sometimes, the way we move can hurt us. Move TOO QUICKLY, and we may injure our feet, legs, hand, arms, etc. The same could happen to the BACK while doing it. This is where injuries like lower back strain, over-tensioning of muscles, pain radiating through other parts of your body, spasms, and herniated disks could occur.


5. Posture, Technique, and Exercise.

This is a triple-pronged category of back protection while doing it. You NEED the right POSTURE. Standing on firm ground is useful but insufficient to protect your back. Your posture while shoveling snow is VERY IMPORTANT! If you’re bent the wrong way, you could injure parts of your body and give way to slips and falls. TECHNIQUE is an area to focus on.

  • How are you MOVING the shovel?
  • How do you BEND OR MOVE YOUR ARMS while shoveling snow?

For those who already have back pain, there are ways to exercise and tactics that could help eliminate back pain [3]. Learn and use the right technique for doing it. You could also improve your posture and the ability to use the proper technique through EXERCISE.

In addition to the above, you need to warm up before going outside to shovel snow. Keep yourself warm and comfy, as this will help you focus on the task versus shivering and hurrying to get back inside the house. Dress for success; this includes a hat, gloves, and outerwear [4]. RUSHING the task could lead to injury too!! Back pain is not a joyful experience, we either never want to have it, or we want to get rid of it and do so FAST! Back pain has been associated with numerous activities, including shoveling snow. Is shoveling snow something you do or plan to do? If yes, you’ll be glad to know there are ways to protect your back while shoveling snow. Know the risks! Protect your back!! Keep safe while shoveling snow!!!

For your guide to eliminating your lower back pain, check out Low Back Pain Solved here!

Low Back Pain Solved