How to get fewer backaches when you shovel

- Have you ever looked at different types of snow shovels? The variety is almost as daunting as that foot of snow in your driveway.

But there's good news: Cleveland Clinic chiropractor Andrew Bang says that when it comes to back pain, the type of shovel doesn't matter as much as how you use it.  

"There's three kind of components that cause back pain when shoveling in general. One is the repetitive nature of the shoveling; one is your ergonomic position of how you hold the shovel; and the other one is the weight on the end of the shovel," he explained.

Dr. Bang said how high you lift snow in a shovel and how far away you throw it determines the amount of strain put on the lower back. He said limiting the lift and throw will translate into fewer backaches.

He adds that research shows that squatting a little bit and placing your feet farther apart can reduce the strain on low back muscles. Squatting lower brings the shovel closer to the ground so you won't have to lift it as high. 

As far as shovel type, Dr. Bang says research hasn't been done to determine which kind is best, but generally any shovel that brings you lower to the ground and reduces the distance you have to lift and throw is a good idea.  

"We can take a good rule of thumb based on the research we do have that says the less we raise it up, the less far we throw it away, the less strain on your back."

Dr. Bang also warns that twisting or jerking to toss a heavy load of snow can lead to injury.

He says that these movements should be avoided whenever possible because they strain the discs in the low back and could cause discs to herniate or rupture.
 

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