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Tips for Protecting Your Back While Shoveling Snow

The winter weather the region has experienced over the past two days has brought with it the need to shovel snow out of driveways and off sidewalks, and all of that strain can cause a back injury, too.

John Roberts, MD, of The Christ Hospital Physicians – Spine Surgery, recommends that you follow these safety tips to protect your back while shoveling snow this winter:

Get a curved handle. Snow shovels with curved handles mean that you don't have to bend as much while shoveling, taking some of the strain off of your back. Also be sure you are always bending at the knees, rather than leaning over.

Break out the measuring tape. Make sure that you are using a snow shovel that is the appropriate length. If the handle is too short, you could be bending more than necessary.

Plastic is best. The lighter the shovel the better, because there's less weight to lift. A strong, plastic shovel will be your best bet because it's both durable and light.

Consider a smaller blade, and use a wider grasp. While a smaller blade may not hold as much snow, it will prevent you from taking on too much weight. Make sure that your hands are at least a foot apart on the shovel. This increases your leverage and reduces the train on your back.

Push, don't lift. Try to push the snow out of the way as opposed to lifting and carrying, and collect small scoops rather than large ones. This can reduce the strain on your back. Beware wet and heavy snow.