Winter means readiness for snow, and thus snow removal. While shoveling snow is a traditional and necessary part of living in a winter environment, it is important to understand how to do it correctly. This is especially true if you’re living with chronic lower back pain. 

Unfortunately, common tasks, like shoveling snow, can be much more difficult when you have lumbar pain. This type of pain is also far more common than you might think. In fact, more than 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Our physical therapists have some tips to help reduce your likelihood of chronic lower back pain, including while you’re shoveling snow.

Handy tips for shoveling snow with chronic lower back pain

Bending. Lifting. Twisting. Shoveling snow is a physical task that requires you to move in many ways. The downside is that, if not done correctly, this task can aggravate your chronic lower back pain. Here are some tips for snow shoveling that can help you avoid this: 

  1. Invest in ergonomically designed snow shovels, which are widely available in hardware and home centers.
  1. Think of snow shoveling like exercise, because in addition to being a chore, that’s exactly what it is. Your muscles and your heart get a workout, so you need to take the same steps and precautions you would for any physical exercise.
  1. Make sure to warm up the muscles by beginning your activity gradually. Stop to stretch after you have briefly warmed up. Pace yourself; take frequent breaks and hydrate as well.
  1. Use good posture and remember lifting techniques: Bend from the knees (not from the waist) and lift with your legs.
  1. Take smaller scoops, and push (rather than scoop) the large/heavy amounts of snow when possible. Avoid twisting your torso or tossing heavy loads of snow. Instead, walk to the destination to deposit them.
  1. Wear proper clothing and dress in layers, so you can shed them as you begin to warm up. Wear boots or shoes with treads, and salt any icy, slippery areas to prevent falls.
  1. Try to shovel newer, fresher snow, which is less dense and therefore less heavy.
  1. If something hurts, don’t push through it. Stop and evaluate so you can avoid injuring yourself.

How can physical therapy help prepare you for daily tasks when you have chronic lower back pain?

Physical therapy isn’t just useful after your chronic lower back pain flares up. It can also help you avoid flare-ups in the first place. The main treatment vehicle your physical therapist will use to help you is an individualized therapy plan. Your plan could include therapy techniques like: 

Find physical therapy for your chronic lower back pain at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

Want to reduce your risk of chronic lower back pain flare-ups? Our team at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation is here to help you. We offer free screenings designed to reveal the root cause of your pain. Our team also excels at building multifaceted therapy plans intended to reduce pain and improve function. 

Can’t make it into one of our therapy clinics? Don’t worry! You can get high-quality therapy from home thanks to our virtual therapy and at-home care services. You can even begin using our therapy services without a doctor’s referral. 

Contact our team today for more information about how we can help you treat back pain or to schedule an initial appointment. 


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