How to avoid lower back pain from shoveling snow and where to get relief now.
Are you tired of the constant barrage of snow that we have had over the past few weeks? It is likely your lower back has been aching and has had enough as well.
Moving snow safely is the key to avoiding a lower back injury. Other concerns include heart problems due to exertion required to move the snow as well and people who have knee, neck, shoulder and foot problems who can be affected by moving heavy snow too.
Having a snow blower is ideally the best and most efficient way to move snow off sidewalks and your driveway. Which should you buy?
My first snowblower for my large driveway was a craftsman which I purchased from Sears years ago. I replaced it a few years later after a warm storm caused it to make snow bricks instead of clearing snow and I injured my lower back while trying to clear the chute multiple times of ice. I sold it and purchased a Toro and haven’t looked back. I realized that it was not the size of the machine or the engine, but the design that separates one machine from another.
What to look for in a great snowblower.
Serrated Auger – The Auger is the rotating part in the front of the snowblower. Non-serrated augers have a harder time cutting through hardened snow so a serrated auger is best. Note the ridges in the auger. Non-serrated augers are smooth and are typically found in less costly machines.
Single or two-stage machines – Go two-stage as the auger system and the drive system that makes the machine go forward is separate. These machines are more expensive but bringing in someone to plow is even more expensive so have a machine that can tackle the worse situations so you can do it yourself. A great machine will pay for itself.
Large impeller. My dual-stage Craftsman snowblower had a large opening but a small impeller which is the mechanism that pushes the snow out through the chute. If this is too small, even with a powerful motor, the machine will be limited on how much snow it can move out through the chute and at what distance. Look for a machine that has a deep impeller that can push more snow out the chute efficiently. It’s not the size of the engine that is most important or the size of the front of the machine, it’s the impeller. You want a machine that does more of the work than you do.
Companies such as Ariens, Toro, Simplicity, and many other companies make great machines. Your local shop can be a great place to get good advice. When you shop locally, the real benefit is when you need servicing. Shops that have your loyalty will give you better service than if you purchased it from Home Depot and they will also give you great advice on what to buy.
In general, buy a larger machine than you think you need. All machines come with electric start these days. You may pay more for an Ariens or a Toro but they are worth it. Also, be sure to change the oil after each heavy season and check it out prior to the season to make sure it starts and runs without a problem.
Look out for heavy snow due to warmer climate storms and from thaw cycles.
The best time to perform snow removal is in the middle of a storm if it is a large one as it is easier to move or right after the storm is finished if smaller. If the snow sits, it will become packed and more difficult to move while becoming heavier as well.
If the snow is heavier, take smaller amounts in the shovel and avoid lifting and twisting. Most back injuries from moving snow are from either improper removal techniques, lifting heavy snow with too full a shovel, or shoveling with a pre-existing lower back problem that has never been properly addressed.
Check out our video on proper snow removal techniques.
Lower back pain after shoveling snow; Who should you call first?
It’s normal to be sore from shoveling heaving snow or from pushing a snowblower for a couple of days. It’s not normal for this soreness to last more than a few days. A chiropractor can help you feel better fast by understanding why you hurt and giving you the most efficient treatment for a dysfunctional lower back. Often, the best way to find out if your back is in good shape is to perform heavy snow removal. It is also the best way to find out if you have a problem since pain is the result.
Chiropractors are trained to evaluate you holistically, meaning they will look at you, not just your lower back. Back pain can be caused by tight and stiff hip joints, foot problems, upper back problems, or just by lifting improperly. Properly understanding back pain requires a holistic approach since movement is holistic. Chiropractors are primary care for the musculoskeletal system. They are also the back pain experts.
We are here to help. You can book your appointment online here.