Getting Answers: preventing injuries while shoveling

Shoveling snow is on the to-do list every New England winter and while it can be simple for some, others can view it as a pain-filled chore
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:17 PM EST
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Shoveling snow is on the to-do list every New England winter and while it can be simple for some, others can view it as a pain-filled chore.

Dr. Ransom Morin, a chiropractor at Vitruvian Wellness Center in West Springfield, told Western Mass News that they see people coming in with back pain from shoveling every year.

“When there seems to be a lot more snow and they have to clear their driveways, patients come in with just pain from shoveling or cleaning their cars off as well,” Morin said.

However, he said this can be easily prevented. If you’re a senior, Morin said that you should have someone younger do it for you. If you have pulmonary or cardiac issues, ask for help. Also, push the snow as much as you can.

If you do have to shovel, bend from your knees and hips when you lift the snow. Also, wear a supportive belt if needed to brace your abdomen, do not hold your breath, and take breaks.

If you do get injured, Morin recommended taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, walk around and stretch.

“Walk around to loosen up the muscles a little bit and then some active stretching will help out a lot,” Morin noted.

Another way to prevent back pain is to upgrade your shovel. Morin recommended choosing one with an arch to limit back use.

David Dion, assistant manager of Rocky’s Ace Hardware in East Longmeadow, said they have plenty of shovels to go around.

“We are still stocked pretty well (because) we haven’t had a lot of snow yet this winter, so the shovel sales have been a little slower than usual, so we do have a good supply,” Dionne explained.

He added there are options to ditch the shovel altogether.

“Put down some ice melt. The biggest thing with ice melt is you want to make sure that you want to check the surface that it’s going down on…If you have pets, you want to make sure you’re using a proper ice melt. You want to use a magnesium chloride if you have pets because the sodium or the calcium will burn their paws,” Dion said.