Does snow shoveling cause back pain?

Does Snow Shoveling Cause Back Pain?

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It’s that time of year again. When snow falls in bunches in Peoria we inevitably see an influx of people calling in with back pain due to shoveling snow. It’s just one of those things that has to be done. Most of the time the problems seem to come because we hurry and try to get back inside where it is nice and warm and aren’t necessarily paying attention to what we are doing.

Whenever we are bending and twisting with anything heavy we need to be very careful. Bending and twisting with a load puts a lot of pressure on the discs in the low back. Combine that with the exertion of throwing the snow off of the shovel and we put our spine under a lot of pressure and are prone to injury. Common injuries we see are aggravation of previous injuries, disc irritations, and muscle strains.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind to help you avoid injury while shoveling snow.

This information is from the ACA website:

  • If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work.
  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
  • Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.
  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath. You may need emergency medical assistance.
  • After any of these activities, if you are sore, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.

If you do all of these things and still manage to hurt yourself we are always here to help. The sooner we can get to a problem the better. Be careful out there and let us know if we can do anything for you.

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