doctor Find a doctor
BACK at it for Winter 2017!

BACK at it for Winter 2017!

Every winter people hurt themselves shoveling snow, ranging from minor aches and pulled muscles to doing permanent damage to their backs. What people don’t usually realize is that shoveling is more than just a chore. It puts a lot of stress on the body in a short period of time. 

“Shoveling snow is like picking up weights, it’s a lot of hard work,” explains Jimmy Sherman, Manager at BMC PT/OT in Winthrop. “Cold weather puts additional strain on your body. Add any physical activity while in the cold and that will make your body work even harder. If you're older or overweight, there's a much higher chance of hurting yourself while shoveling.” Even people who regularly exercise can find shoveling to be strenuous if they try to tackle the job quickly without taking breaks. 

According to Jimmy, back injuries are among the most common injuries resulting from shoveling snow. Stretching first is always a good idea. If possible, wait until later in the day to start shoveling. Many back injuries occur in the morning, because the tissue around the spine is not warmed up or loose after a night of rest.

Jimmy suggests the following tips for protecting your back if you need to shovel:

  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible. 
  • Shoveling can strain muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching beforehand.
  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Do not try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions. 
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back. 
  • Take frequent breaks to take the strain off your muscles. You’re more likely to get an injury if you’re tired. 
  • *Please note: If you feel chest pain, get really tired, and/or have shortness of breath STOP shoveling. You may need immediate medical help.

For more information on physical or occupational therapy services at BMC PT/OT in Winthrop, please visit