The importance of shoveling correctly during snowy days

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ST. LOUIS – This time of the year brings a lot of heavy lifting while shoveling snow. This activity can bring a great deal of back pain.

The weather in 2020 has been exceptional and some think we’re due for some big snow events.

Significant snowfall can stretch all the way from Nov. through March and be less than 10 inches but more than 30 inches.

We have to consider the weight of the snow.

“There’s a big difference in the type of snow that comes down,” SLUCare Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Randall Otto said. “If it’s a light snow that comes down and is more of a dusting, you know sometimes you can sweep that with a broom or use a leaf blower to get that down.”

Otto said if there is wet snow, shovel it in stages and take breaks so that you’re not trying to do everything at once.

He also suggests shoveling as it’s snowing so the snow won’t pile up, causing it to be heavier.

During Jan. 11-12 of 2009, 10.9 inches of snow fell in just 24 hours.

The average weight of a full wet snow is 22 pounds per cubic foot.

Normal regular snow weighs 15 pounds per cubic foot.

Powdery snow weighs only 4 pounds per cubic foot.

Snow shoveling equipment is important.

“I think some of those ergonomic shovels are also an improvement in design so you’re not leaning over as much and it’s more in an upright position as you’re doing it,” Otto said. “So those can help in addition to some of those shovels that are more like a plow. Consider warming up when you’re getting ready to go out to shovel snow, especially if you’re not used to doing that type of labor-intensive work.”

Otto said when shoveling, watch your technique.

“You don’t really want to do a lot of bending over,” Otto said. “When you bend over, it’s a big lever arm as you’re hanging over there so you want to make sure you concentrate on your core and really squat down and use your legs to help to assist with everything. When you’re leaning and lunging over like that, you’re more prone to lower back injuries or even shoulder or shoulder blade injuries”

Otto said shoveling incorrectly can hurt the lower back muscles that help you to stand upright. Be sure to use your core to help the strength of your back

During an average winter, we receive 4.4 inches of snow in Dec., 5.6 inches of snow in our snowiest month, Jan, and 4.3 inches of snow in Feb.

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