It’s that time of year where we quite literally put the weight of winter on our backs as we shovel out of our driveways and parking spaces. Whether the snow is light and fluffy or heavy and wet, the chances of getting a back injury are very high.

It turns out the snow from Sunday's storm was pretty heavy and my back is pretty angry at me. So I got some tips from my fiancé, who is a clinical physical therapist, on how to prevent throwing your back out during shoveling.

Ross has been a physical therapist for the past six years and currently practices at Restore Physical Therapy in Cranston, Rhode Island.

“Every winter, I deal with lots of back injuries,” he said, and he believes there are a few bad habits that people do while shoveling that can make the chances of back pain more likely.

“People are usually in a rush to shovel and they don’t view shoveling as an exercise,” he explains. “But shoveling takes a lot of work and puts a lot of strain on the body.”

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Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind for the next time you have to bundle up and get to work:

  • Stretch first. Quad stretches and calf stretches will help warm your body up before starting.
  • Bend your knees. Ross finds that people tend to lock their legs without realizing, leading a person to put most of the weight onto their back instead of their legs, resulting in back spasms.
  • Put less snow on the shovel instead of piling as much as you can, which will surely get your back aching.

Are you already feeling some back pain after the storm this weekend? Here’s what to do:

  • Reduce inflammation as soon as possible
  • Make stretching a habit to avoid your muscles from tightening
  • Physical therapy is highly recommended. It’s important to view it as an injury and not just a “sore back.”

Watch below for more tips and tricks from Dr. Ross Levine:

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