Shovel Snow the Safe Way

Shoveling snow may seem like a dreaded and mundane task, but as we know here at Front Range Orthopedics & Spine, it can be a dangerous task and can cause serious orthopedic injury. The key to preventing orthopedic injury is to make sure you are shoveling the safe way. Here is how.

1. Stretch

Before you go out and shovel your driveway and sidewalks, be sure you do some stretching to warm up. Snow shoveling is a physically intense activity, and just like other physical activity, like sports and exercise, you are going to want to stretch and warm up. This is key to safe shoveling and preventing orthopedic injury because it activates your muscles. This may also prevent injuries if you end up slipping on snow or ice.

2. Use the Proper Shovel

Using the right shovel when shoveling snow can make all the difference. It is not wise to use your regular garden or digging shovel. Their metal heads will make snow and ice stick to them, making it harder to shovel. What you want is a push-type shovel that is lightweight and allows you to keep a straight back while shoveling. Shoveling with a bent back can cause orthopedic injury.

3. Push, Don’t Lift

A common misconception about shoveling snow is that you have to lift it. Most orthopedists recommend that you don’t lift, just push the snow. In Colorado especially, we get heavy wet snows in the fall and spring. The best way to prevent orthopedic injury when shoveling wet snow is to push the snow. If you must lift the snow, remember to bend at the knee with your feet hip-width apart and to keep your back straight. *Do not twist*

4. Shovel Early and Often

Most orthopedic injuries from snow shoveling are due to the fact that people are shoveling a lot of snow at once. Don’t let the snow pile up before shoveling. Shoveling a few times, as opposed to one time after the storm has passed, will keep the snow and physical activity needed to shovel light. It can also help you from getting exhausted and staying out in the cold for too long.

5. Take Breaks

If you waited for the storm to pass and are shoveling all at once, remember to take breaks. The combination of the cold and the strenuous physical activity could lead you to accidentally cause an orthopedic injury to yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either.

If you or a loved one has experienced pain or injury due to shoveling snow, get in touch with your orthopedic doctor. You can schedule an appointment with Front Range Orthopedics & Spine by calling 303.772.1600 or by filling out a new patient request form.

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