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How To Shovel Without Injuring Your Back

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jan 23, 2019

shoveling-without-hurting-your-back

Has Old Man Winter dropped snow on your driveway yet this year? Shoveling any amount of snow can be hard on your back if you go about it the wrong way. I have some tips to give you this week on how to clear the snow off of your driveway without ending up laid out on the couch with a heating pad.

Warm Up Before You Shovel

Taking a few minutes to stretch before going out to shovel is a good way to warm up your muscles. Stretching helps you avoid strained or pulled muscles that start to show up the day after shoveling.

Dress in Lightweight Layers

Even though it's cold outside, you're going to sweat as you shovel snow. Dress in layers of light, breathable clothing to allow the perspiration to evaporate from your skin. If you get too warm, it's easy to take off one layer and continue your work.

Use the Proper Shoveling Technique

The right technique for shoveling snow can save you from an achy back. First, position your feet on the ground about hip-width apart. Keep the shovel near your body, and bend at the knees when you go to lift the snow. To increase leverage, your hands should be about 12 inches apart on the handle. Be sure to switch hands throughout the task so you're not using the same muscles for the entire shoveling job. Also, if you can push the snow to the side of your driveway instead of lifting it, then go with that technique. Pushing snow is a lot less strenuous than lifting the shovel and tossing a load of snow!

Take Frequent Breaks

Taking breaks often is an excellent way to avoid overexertion when shoveling your driveway. Put aside the caffeinated drinks and enjoy some water to help you stay hydrated throughout the task.

Decide Where the Snow Will Go

Before you start to shovel, make the decision of where to put the snow. I suggest you pile it on each side of your driveway, leaving access to your mailbox and front walkway. Trying to carry all of the snow over to one pile on one side of the driveway or piling it in many different places increases the chances you'll make a wrong move and hurt your back.

Use a Shovel With the Right Design

There are lots of snow shovels sold at this time of year. A shovel with an adjustable handle allows you to lengthen or shorten the handle to suit your height. As a rule, the handle grip should reach chest height when you stand the shovel upright on the ground. Also, shovel with a small plastic blade is easier to maneuver than one with a traditional metal blade. I suggest picking up several shovels in the hardware store to test their weight and see how comfortable you are using them.

Don't Wait Too Long to Shovel

Time your shoveling in a way that doesn't leave you with an overwhelming task. If possible, shovel the snow off of your driveway right away after each snowfall. In a bad storm, you might even want to shovel during a lull before it's over, then again after it ends. Ideally, you want to avoid tackling a pileup of snow that's accumulated after several snowfalls over a few days.

Remember to enjoy the snow, the icicles glowing in the moonlight, and all of the other beautiful sights of the winter season. Thanks for reading. - Alan

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