Shoveling heavy, wet snow risks back and shoulder injuries

A man shovels the curb along 13th Street in downtown Washington. (AP File)

Dick Uliano,

WASHINGTON – Homeowners may not have cause for concern in some areas, but north and west of D.C. heavy, wet snow could throw out the backs of snow shovelers.

It’s not unusual for such snow to produce patients for physical therapists like Ira Silverstein, who operates a practice within 10 blocks of the White House.

“We call them seasonal injuries and we see them,” Silverstein says.

“Usually the most common injuries are back injuries or shoulder injuries,” he says.

Snow shovelers tend to hurt themselves when they bend at the waist instead of the knees then twist their bodies, throwing the snow to the side.

“I recommend keeping your feet flat and that’s usually going to force you to bend your knees as you’re going to bend forward to lift the snow,” Silverstein says.

It’s also wise to face the direction where you’ll throw the snow, he says.

“[Throw it] straight out in front of you,” Silverstein says.

“So you eliminate the rotary component liable to create the injury,” he says.

Silverstein also urges shovelers to do just a little at a time.

“Moderation is the key, and just remember to throw the snow right in front of you and bend your knees,” he says.

Feeling stiff and achy after shoveling heavy, wet snow is one thing, but Silverstein warns that having troubling straightening your back a couple of hours after the job is a tell tale sign of injury.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

Advertiser Content