At our award winning chiropractic clinic we often see clients who have sustained a back injury while working. In many cases, it is an injury that has occurred while using a shovel.
Shovel-related injuries are common in the United Kingdom because so many people use shovels regularly in the garden. It’s also common for UK citizens to use snow shovels in winter when there is heavy snow covering their driveway and paths.
Fortunately, it is possible to use a shovel safely and avoid back injuries. In this post, I’ll share several shovelling tips which will help you get your work done without risking your back.
Are you already suffering from back pain? Book a visit with an experienced chiropractor in Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme area at Newcastle Chiropractic Clinic by calling 01782 711 191 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#1 – Choose the right shovel for the job
As the old saying goes, you should always use the right tool for the job. This is particularly true when it comes to shovels as using the wrong one may see you arriving in our chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent with a back injury!
There are several types of shovels available:
- Digging shovels
These long-handled shovels feature a slightly curved scoop with a pointed or flat tip. They are ideal for digging in the garden or making trenches. The scoop is usually medium-sized and designed to carry a few kilograms of material. A digging shovel weighs anywhere between 1.5 to 3 kilograms.
- Trenching shovels
These are more specialised long-handled shovels designed to dig deeper holes and trenches. They have a very thin and narrow scoop.
- Drain spaces
Designed for clearing existing trenches and for precise garden digging. They feature a short handle and narrow scoop.
- Scoop shovels
Scoop shovels feature a reasonably short handle and extremely broad scoop. There are several designs available which are useful for shovelling for different materials including snow, leaves, coal, and stones. They are poor at digging.
Scrapers have long handles attached to a small blade or scoop. They are designed for removing ice from roofs and driveways.
Using the wrong kind of shovel can make the job much more strenuous on your back, leading to muscle strains which might require treatment at our chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent. The right shovel will have the correct handle length for the job (digging deep is easier with a longer handle) and a scoop size that is appropriate for the weight of the material being picked up.
#2 – Consider using an ergonomic shovel
Some shovels have a curved handle, which allows you to pick up material without being tempted to bend over. This can be useful if you suffer from lower back pain.
#3 – Warm Up Before You Shovel
This tip is particularly important if you are shovelling in cold weather or your muscles are feeling a bit stiff. The main areas to focus on will be your back, neck, and legs (hamstrings specifically). Perform these stretches and exercises to get your blood pumping: If you have a preexisting health condition be sure to seek appropriate medical advice before undertaking any new form of exercise or stretching.
Stand with your feet about hi-width apart. With your weight in your heels bend your knees so you go into a squat position. Engage your abs and only go as low as is comfortable. After crouching, return to a standing position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Standing forward bend
From a standing position, pivot at the hips to lean forward, touching the ground with your hands. Repeat several times.
- Arm circles
While standing, hold your arms parallel to the floor and rotate them in circles (backwards and forwards) for 15 repetitions.
- Torso rotation
Start in a standing position with by slightly bent knees. Rotate your torso as if you were attempting to look at something behind you without moving your feet. Perform the action on both sides 10 times per side. Make your movements smooth and gentle.
- Hamstring stretch
Perform one of the hamstring stretches on this page.
#4 – Pay attention to your technique
Be mindful about your shovelling technique as you work. Stick to the following rules as much as possible:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Position your hips and shoulder towards the load
- Keep your knees slightly bent and back straight
- Move your weight from your back to front leg as you work
- Always lift with your legs instead of bending at the waist
- Place the shovel scoop close to the material before you pick it up
- Avoid picking up too much material in one scoop
- As you lift, use your legs, keep your abdominal muscles engaged and maintain a flat back
- Avoiding performing any twisting motions as you shovel
Refer to this YouTube video to see the best way to shovel soil.
#5 – Take regular breaks
Take regular breaks so you can relax your muscles momentarily. You can also use this time to drink some water, perform some stretches, and remind yourself about maintaining good posture.
#6 – Stretch after shovelling
If you have been shovelling for an extended period, you may also need to perform some stretches after you have finished. Once again, focus on stretches that target the hamstrings, back, and neck.
I hope you found this article useful. If you would like to book a visit with an experienced chiropractor in Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme area contact Newcastle Chiropractic Clinic by calling 01782 711 191 or emailing us at email@example.com.