Snow Shoveling: Common Faults and Using Correct Mechanics

How about all this unseasonably warm weather we are currently experiencing… amazing right?  Well as much as we would all like this warm, sunny weather to continue, it is inevitable that the foot high snow falls are just around the corner.  Well, in preparation for these impending snow storms, Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition wanted to share some basic faults that occur when shoveling snow.  We will also discuss correct snow shoveling mechanics.  Finally, if one of you readers unfortunately commits a fault and ends up injuring your back or neck shoveling, we will be here for you to address your pain and disability.

Most of us at some point have experienced the following scenario… three quarters through shoveling you feel a stabbing pain in your back and an accompanying electrical shock down into your calf.  You end up bent over without being able to straighten up.  The above mentioned nightmare is usually a result of the following faults:

  • Not bracing your core
  • Bending over to pick up snow with straight legs
  • Rotating your torso without moving your feet to throw the shoveled snow
  • Not taking necessary rest periods
  • Dehydration
  • Improper warm up

So now that you all are versed in some common faults resulting in debilitating back pain, it is time to discuss the necessary steps to prepare your body for shoveling along with correct body mechanics:

  • Recommend a general warm up consisting of low intensity aerobic exercise for a couple minutes followed by a simple full body stretching routine
  • Drink ample fluids before, during and after shoveling snow
  • Drawing in your deeper abdominal muscle (transverse abdomens) and squeezing your buttocks (isometric contraction of gluteus maximus)
  • Making sure that in preparation of tossing the freshly shoveled snow you turn your entire body starting with your feet
  • Take routine breaks… shoveling snow is a very demanding task for your cardiorespiratory system which can result in serious cardiac issues if you are not physically fit
  • Make sure you bend your knees, hinge from your hips and keep your back straight

If you are one of the unfortunate victims of the snow shoveling reaper, we are well equipped to deal with your debilitating pain and get you back on your way.  Joe and I can provide a myriad of modalities (electric stimulation, moist heat etc.), soft tissue mobilizations, manual stretching and therapeutic exercise to address your pain and minimize the chances of you experiencing another episode of back pain attributed to shoveling.  HAPPY SHOVELING!

Ed Kinsella P.T. D.P.T. Cert. MDT

Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC

1278 Yardville Allentown Rd. Suite 3

Allentown, NJ 08501