During the winter months, snow shoveling is the leading cause of lower back pain. Not warming up, improper form, lifting too much snow and too much twisting can bring on the lower back pain. In order to avoid lower back pain or injury, it is important to do a small warm up. Some dynamic stretches that mimic shoveling snow like squats, bending down to touch your toes, arm rotations and some side twists, will get your body warmed up.
When shoveling snow it is important to maintain proper form. The following principles need to be remembered:
- keep your back straight, not arched
- bend at the knees and hips, not your waist
- keep your abdominal muscles activated
- keep it light, don’t pack on too much snow onto the shovel
When you’re finished shoveling, it is important to do some static stretching. These are stretches that you hold for a few seconds. Some stretches include, hamstring stretch, quad stretch and lying on your back and hugging your knees.
Incorrect Form – Straight Back and Knees Correct Form – Bent at the Hips and Knees
Some well known factors that contribute to low back pain include:
- Poor conditioning
- Being over weight
- Improper lifting form
- Prolonged sitting
Rehabilitation for the injury can include following the acronym R.I.C.E. which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This will be discussed in more detail in a future blog post.