As residents in South Hampton Roads prepare for the possibility of more snow this week, it’s important to remember that shoveling snow can cause back injuries and pain when done improperly.
In fact, more than 34,000 people nationwide wound up in their doctor’s office or a hospital emergency room in 2012 for hurting themselves while shoveling snow, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Snow removal is high stress on the back if done incorrectly and is especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly,” said Dr. Steven Morgan, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Always proceed with caution when removing snow. If you have a medical condition, consider hiring someone or asking for help from friends, neighbors or family members to remove the snow.”
Some of the injuries from snow shoveling may involve shoulder pain and torn muscles.
To help people avoid injuries, the AAOS recommends the following tips:
- Push snow, instead of lifting it. If you must lift it, take small amounts and lift using your legs. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.
- Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side. This creates a twisting motion that can put stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.
- Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.
- Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care.
Source: AAOS news release
+ If you have experienced multiple surgeries and/or long periods of pain and disability from neck and back pain, the Spine Center of Hampton Roads at Virginia Orthopaedic and Spine Specialists offers evaluation and treatment geared to provide you with an optimal, pain-free lifestyle.