Shoveling Smart: Avoiding Shoulder Pain While Clearing Snow

Shoveling snow is a common winter chore that, if done improperly, can lead to shoulder pain and injury. The repetitive motion and the weight of the snow can strain the shoulder muscles and tendons. This blog offers insights into how to shovel snow effectively while minimizing the risk of shoulder pain. Shoveling smart to help prevent shoulder pain and injury.

Understanding the Risks

Shoveling involves lifting, twisting, and throwing motions that can put significant stress on the shoulders, particularly for those who are not regularly engaged in such physical activity. The cold weather also makes muscles more susceptible to injury due to reduced flexibility.

Preparation: The Key to Prevention

– Warm-Up: Before you start, do a light warm-up to get the blood flowing to your muscles. Examples of exercises could be shoulder circles, shoulder swings, and a posterior shoulder stretch.
– Choose the Right Shovel: Ergonomically designed shovels reduce the strain on your body.

Techniques to Prevent Shoulder Pain
1. Proper Lifting: Bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back and shoulders.
2. Keep Loads Light: It’s better to shovel smaller amounts more frequently than to lift heavy loads.
3. Avoid Twisting Motions: Turn your whole body instead of twisting at the waist.
4. Use Both Arms: Switch between your left and right arms to balance the workload if able.
5. Pace Yourself: Take frequent breaks to prevent overexertion.

Post-Shoveling Care

After shoveling, it’s important to cool down. Stretch your arms, shoulders, and back to relax the muscles. Applying heat can also help reduce muscle stiffness.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you experience persistent or severe shoulder pain after shoveling, consult a physical therapist. They can assess whether you have a strain, impingement, or another issue that might require specific treatment.

Shoveling snow is an unavoidable task for many, but it doesn’t have to lead to shoulder pain. By choosing the right equipment, employing proper techniques, and taking care of your body before and after, you can protect your shoulders. Remember, your safety and health are paramount. When in doubt, seek professional advice or assistance with snow removal.

If you continue to experience shoulder pain, schedule your appointment with one of Freedom Physical Therapy Service’s skilled manual therapists today!

Rachel graduated with honors from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology and in 2017 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. At Concordia, Rachel had the opportunity to take advanced coursework in manual therapy and sport specific training.