Fall is in the air, which means the wet Chicago snows are not far away. With the white stuff comes the arduous and repetitive task of shoveling snow. Removing snow from your driveway and sidewalks can cause physical damage to the joints and muscles in your body. The damage is most frequently seen in the back and shoulders. Of course falls on slick icy surfaces can cause injuries to almost any part of the body especially the knees, hips, wrists and elbows.
Tips For Staying Safe While Snow Shoveling
The most common injuries from snow shoveling are to the back and spine, especially to the lumbar, or lower back, region. With this in mind, there are things you can do to avoid injury. Below are some tips that should help make your snow shoveling safer and prevent injuries.
Warm Up – Take some time while still inside your home or business to perform stretches and get your muscles warmed up. This will ensure your joints and muscles are ready for the hard work ahead.
Dress For The Weather– Make sure to wear clothes that will keep you warm, but does not allow you to sweat. You also need to make sure to wear some warm boots that have good traction to prevent you from falling on a patch of ice.
Get A Good Shovel – There are many types of shovels to choose from. Shovels that have a curve in the handle are usually the best choice. The curve will help you lift and push the snow while maintaining a good posture. The handle of the shovel needs to be long enough that the shovel stands chest high when the blade is on the ground. Lastly you may want to buy two shovels. One shovel should be designed to push snow like a plow and the other for lifting and throwing snow.
Shovel Multiple Times– Waiting for the snow to stop falling may seem like a good idea, but usually that just makes the job a lot more difficult. A better idea is to get out and shovel the snow a few times through the day. This means you will be shoveling less each time and the snow will be less packed down and dense. If you can’t get out multiple times during the day then make sure to pace yourself and take breaks when you do finally get out to shovel.
Use Great Technique– If you can, push the snow instead of lifting. Pushing is usually easier and less work then shoveling, If you have to lift the snow make sure to keep your hands spread apart on the handle and your feet spread apart, about the same width as your shoulders. Always bend at the knees and use your legs and your stomach muscles to lift the snow. Try not to actually throw the snow, instead carry the snow the shortest distance possible and dump the snow. For deep snows, shovel the snow in incremental layers to make it easier to lift.
If You Get Injured Shoveling Snow
Every winter the orthopedic physicians at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute treat many injuries from snow shoveling. Using good techniques, common sense, and taking rest breaks could have prevented most of these injuries. If are injured while shoveling snow this winter make an appointment with one of IBJI’s experienced orthopedic doctors. If you have an injury that needs treatment urgently please visit one of our OrthoAccess clinics conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area. No matter if you are treated at an IBJI OrthoAccess location or one of our traditional offices, you will find out why IBJI is the best choice for orthopedic care in the Midwest.
Orthopedic Doctors: When should I see an orthopedic physician?
This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).