Shovel snow smarter to avoid back pain

Snow shoveling can be a real pain.

Posted: Dec 23, 2017 7:00 PM

Snow shoveling can be a real pain.


In fact, research shows thousands of people end up in emergency departments each year after snow shoveling – and many of those visits are for back injuries.

The repetition of lifting too much and twisting too far often wreaks havoc on the lower back.

But according to Cleveland Clinic's Andrew Bang, D.C., many low back injuries can be avoided with a few simple tweaks to our form.

"You can make sure your stance is a little wider than normal and then you can also make sure you're bending your knees quite a bit, and the last step is to actually tilt your hips forward, flattening your back," said Dr. Bang. "Doing these three things takes the most stress off your lower back."

Dr. Bang said shoveling often involves a dangerous combination of heavy lifting, twisting and throwing snow.

He said twisting puts strain on the discs in the lower back and can lead to disc herniation and rupture, so it's a good idea to avoid twisting when shoveling.

He added that doing any activity repetitively over time can lead to muscle fatigue, discomfort, and even damage to muscles and ligaments – so it's best to break up activities like shoveling.

He suggested switching between a few minutes of lifting and throwing snow, and a few minutes of pushing or plowing snow.

When it comes to the weight of the snow, Dr. Bang said lifting less than eight pounds of snow is low to no risk.

However, as folks lift up towards 50 pounds of snow, risk for back injury increases, so it's important to lift within a safe range.

"If you keep that range in that 10-15 pounds of weight, you're going to be in a low risk category to avoid a major injury from shoveling snow," said Dr. Bang.

Before heading outdoors, Dr. Bang said a few minutes of simple exercises or stretches like toe touches, or lumbar twists will warm up the lower back and help to avoid potential injury.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 402263

Reported Deaths: 32395
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City21930123323
Nassau423542190
Suffolk421121993
Westchester353271435
Rockland13719670
Orange10841484
Erie7766646
Dutchess4280152
Monroe4200277
Onondaga3142191
Albany2225121
Ulster186288
Oneida1830104
Sullivan146548
Putnam136563
Niagara134294
Schenectady86837
Broome82760
Rensselaer61730
Saratoga61017
Columbia48737
Madison37517
Ontario30233
Orleans28754
Warren28033
Steuben27641
Greene26618
Fulton26524
Genesee2505
Washington24914
St. Lawrence2312
Oswego2223
Wayne2093
Herkimer1934
Tompkins1860
Chautauqua1717
Chenango1696
Tioga16124
Chemung1482
Livingston1478
Cattaraugus1386
Montgomery1334
Cayuga1262
Clinton1094
Wyoming1025
Jefferson990
Delaware924
Otsego895
Seneca740
Allegany661
Schoharie620
Cortland590
Essex510
Yates486
Franklin360
Lewis310
Schuyler150
Hamilton60
Unassigned00
Utica
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 61°
Oneonta
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 61°
Herkimer
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 61°
Thendara
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 61°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
Menu 2 Go list of takeout dinners & fish fries
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left