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It’s that time of the year again in NEPA. Along with winter comes the beautiful snow, and unfortunately for some, shoveling it!

Shoveling snow is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain to the lower back and shoulders. The movements involved with shoveling aren’t common daily moves for most. Being conscious of these tips can help to avoid injuries.Before any activity, warming up your muscles before starting is important. Light movements such as walking in place and bending side to side. Don’t forget to warm up your shoulders, too- arm circles forward and backwards are great for those. Always push rather than lift, when possible. As with anything, always bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than putting strain on your back. Lift smaller amounts of snow on the shovel. Step in the direction you are throwing the snow to prevent twisting the lower back.Investing in an ergonomic shovel is worth the while! Using a shovel that lets you keep your back straight while lifting is key. Remember to take frequent breaks to stand up straight and extend your lower back during shoveling. Backward bending exercises will help reverse the forward bending of shoveling. For this stretch, stand straight, hands on the back of the hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds. Keeping these tips in mind will help you prevent an injury while shoveling winter’s snowfall. When in doubt about your fitness for shoveling, check with your doctor first. It is an extremely strenuous task that puts stress on your heart and musculoskeletal system. If you are experiencing back, neck or shoulder pain, contact your local physical therapist. The sooner it’s addressed and treated, the faster the recovery!

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