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Barry Wahner, DC — 4931 Wissahickon Ave (near Rte 1), Philadelphia, PA 19144 — 215.842.2227






Shovel Snow Safely

Snow Shoveling is a challenging and repetitive activity that can strain muscles in the lower back and the shoulders. Injuries and pain due to snow shoveling are more likely to happen to people who may not realize that they are out of condition. Following these tips can help you avoid injury:

  • Wear several layers of warm comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. Wear water resistant boots with good traction. Slipping and sliding puts you at risk of a painful fall.
  • Take a few minutes to stretch. Shoveling is a strenuous workout so you need to stretch to warm up your muscles. Stretching before and after shoveling helps prevent fatigue, pain and injury.
  • Choose the proper shovel. Choose a light weight shovel with a long enough handle that you don’t stoop to shovel. A smaller blade is better than a larger blade as it avoids the risk of trying to pick up too heavy a pile of snow.
  • Push the snow; do not lift it. Pushing puts significantly less strain on the spine than lifting. Use proper technique when pushing or lifting:
    • Keep feet hip width apart for balance.
    • Hold shovel close to body with hands spaced apart for better leverage.
    • Bend from the knees keeping your spine straight.
    • If you must throw snow, take only as much snow as you can easily lift. Turn your feet in the direction you are throwing – DO NOT twist your back or throw snow over the shoulder as this puts significant strain on your back.
  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight, gently arch your spine, pull your shoulders back and take a couple deep breaths. Take note of how you are feeling in general. If you have difficulty straightening up or are developing pain it is good advice to stop before you create a bigger problem.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings particularly when digging your car out on the street. Pay attention to the traffic as the drivers may be distracted and won’t likely have good traction on snow and ice.
  • Be a good neighbor. If others on your block are not healthy enough to remove snow, give them a hand. A few minutes of your time can make a world of difference for them.
  • Recognize the danger signs. Stop shoveling and call 911 if you feel discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arms or neck; unusual or prolonged shortness of breath; a dizzy or faint feeling; excessive sweating or nausea/vomiting.

Follow these tips to reduce your aches and pain and avoid being injured while snow shoveling. If you do experience pain or loss of mobility in your back or shoulders, call our office (215-842-2227) right away. We will help you feel better and get moving again.


wahnerchiro@verizon.net © 2015 Barry Wahner and Melinda Zipin Consulting. All rights reserved.
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