Winter is coming. With that comes everybody’s least favorite piece of yard work – snow shoveling. It’s the one chore almost nobody loves but must be done. Unfortunately, it is one of the most strenuous chores we must complete and causes roughly 11,500 injuries per year.1 The most common are soft tissue injuries (strains, cramping, pulled muscles) and lower back injuries. Lower back injuries account for almost 35% of total snow shovel-related injuries.1
Snow shoveling requires a lot of bending, pushing, lifting, and twisting, so it’s no wonder why it can result in so many back injuries. The big question that needs to be answered, is what do you do if you end up injuring your back? The snow is likely to keep coming, and the snow shovel won’t move the snow by itself. Ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful but may not be enough to get you back outside to finish the job. Here are some easy exercises you can do to relieve your pain and improve your mobility so you can move those big piles of snow.
These exercises will assist with many of the movements required to shovel snow and should not aggravate your symptoms. If these don’t help, your next best step is to call your local Athletico and set up a Free Assessment to see how physical therapy can help you recover and get back to moving those piles of snow. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Daniel S. Watson, Brenda J. Shields, Gary A. Smith. Snow shovel–related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US EDs, 1990 to 2006. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine,Volume 29, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 11-17. ISSN 0735-6757. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2009.07.003.