We all know that shoveling snow can be a proverbial “pain in the neck,” however, we do not want that pain to physically manifest itself once you’ve kicked off your boots. Shoveling is one of the most common causes of neck, back, and upper extremity injury during this season. Luckily, these injuries can be prevented by using the proper shoveling techniques.

A small lightweight shovel blade with a curved handle may reduce the stress on your body and reduce injury potential. The lightweight blade is easier to push, and the arched handle will reduce your bending distance. While shoveling, it is important to remember to lift with your legs, not with your back. You do not want to use your back to lift the snow, as straining your back like this will likely cause an injury. It is important to stretch and warm up your muscles prior to shoveling. It is cold out there, and cold weather and tight muscles are a dangerous combination. It is very common to strain, or sprain or even tear a muscle while shoveling in the cold weather. It is also very common for one’s back and hamstring muscles to be injured with shoveling, so as a result, make sure to warm up all of these muscle groups first.

Although shoveling is considered to be an exertional activity, it can still get your heart rate up, and can be considered a cardiovascular workout. It is important to make sure that you have no cardiovascular risk factors prior to shoveling. If you have high blood pressure, or atherosclerosis, or elevated cholesterol or diabetes, or any other cardiac history, it is important to speak with your physician prior to the snow season to ensure that your cardiac function is optimized.

Precautions to prevent injury should be employed before any activity but in these upcoming cold winter months, extra care should be taken. As we are pummeled with storm after storm, this activity will take a toll on your body. So if you are going to take this activity upon yourself, just make sure that your body is warmed up and limber.

Please contact Dr Herman at East Northport Medical Care 631-368-9166 if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment. Same day appointments are always available if you sustain an injury.