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Snow Removal: Watch Your Back

Lower back strain is one of the most common injuries related to shoveling snow. The following measures can help you prevent injuries and keep your back healthy while shoveling:


  • Before the first snowfall is predicted, make sure you have a proper shovel. The best shovel is one that is light weight, ergonomic and has a curved handle. Your shovel should also be long enough so that you can avoid bending over while shoveling and short enough so that the load on the blade when you lift it is close to your body.

  • Make sure that you have other essential equipment, like warm, waterproof and skid-proof boots, as well as gloves, a hat, a coat and sunglasses to protect against glare.

  • Warm up before you start shoveling by walking around for five or 10 minutes, then stretch your arms, legs and back.

  • If possible, shovel when the snow is fresh rather than after it has been packed down and is heavier.

  • If the area you need to clear is large, shovel in stages starting with the most critical path first.

  • Switch hands often, and keep your hands separated with one hand closer to the blade.

  • Keep the loads light, rather than piling large amounts of snow on your shovel blade. If the snow is deep, shovel in layers.

  • Avoid bending and twisting as you lift, and empty each shovel full of snow. When possible, push the snow to one side as you clear the path.

  • Avoid throwing snow off the shovel blade, especially over your shoulder.

  • Take a break every 15 or 20 minutes to straighten and stretch your back.

  • Stay hydrated.



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