Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winter Safety: Snow Shoveling and Your Back

Winter weather can pose a variety of health and safety concerns, from slippery surfaces and flu viruses to frostbite and back pain from shoveling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 50,000 people sustain some sort of winter-related back injury each year. While 5,800 of those are related to holiday decorating, back problems can also be caused by strenuous activities in winter, such as snow shoveling. With the help of our resident experts at GBMC, we have compiled health and safety tips to keep in mind when digging out, whether you've only had a few inches of snow or a full-blown snowstorm. These best practices can help you reduce your risk of injury your back while shoveling snow. 

Snow Shoveling Posture
  • Begin with a straight back and slowly bend your knees while shoveling, lifting with your legs as you come back to a stand.
  • Keep your back straight at all times, avoiding hunching over, which causes undue stress on the spine.
  • Shovel small amounts of snow at a time. Heavy lifting can cause unnecessary strain on the back.
  • Purchase an ergonomic shovel that has an angle in the handle. This will help you maintain proper posture.
  • Keep this simple mantra in mind: “If it hurts, stop!” Injuries to the back can start from small, seemingly insignificant pain. Listening to your body is important.
  • Remember to hydrate after shoveling snow. Even though you might feel cold, you are exerting the body when shoveling,

If you experience back pain, begin by treating with heat or ice in combination with aspirin or acetaminophen. If the pain becomes worse after an extended period of time, it is recommended that you contact your physician. Greater Baltimore Neurosurgical Associates (GBNA) offers appointments for patients with back pain. To learn more, visit or call 443-849-GBMC (4262) to make an appointment.

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