What muscles get sore from shoveling snow?

Answered by Tom Adger

When it comes to shoveling snow, several muscles in the body can become sore and strained. One of the most commonly affected areas is the lower back. The repetitive motion of bending and lifting while shoveling can put a significant strain on the muscles in the lower back, leading to acute back pain.

The lower back, or lumbar region, is comprised of several muscles that work together to provide stability and support. These muscles include the erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and the deep muscles of the core such as the transverse abdominis. When these muscles are overexerted or strained, they can become sore and painful.

In addition to the lower back, other muscles that may become sore from shoveling snow include the shoulders and arms. The act of lifting and throwing snow requires the use of the deltoids, trapezius, and biceps muscles. These muscles can become fatigued and achy, especially if the snow is heavy or if the individual is not using proper lifting techniques.

It’s important to note that the soreness and strain experienced in these muscles is often a result of overexertion and improper body mechanics while shoveling. This is why it is crucial to use proper shoveling techniques to minimize the risk of injury.

To prevent muscle soreness and strain while shoveling snow, it is recommended to:

1. Warm up before starting: Perform some gentle stretches and movements to warm up the muscles and increase blood flow to the area.

2. Use proper body mechanics: Bend at the knees and hips, not the back, when lifting snow. Keep the back straight and use the leg muscles to power the lift. Avoid twisting motions, as they can strain the muscles.

3. Take frequent breaks: Shoveling snow can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Overexertion can lead to muscle fatigue and increased risk of injury.

4. Use ergonomic shovels: Consider using shovels with curved handles or adjustable lengths to minimize strain on the muscles. These types of shovels can help maintain a more neutral wrist and arm position while shoveling.

5. Strengthen the core and back muscles: Engaging in regular exercise and strength training can help build up the muscles used during shoveling, making them less prone to strain and soreness.

If you do experience muscle soreness after shoveling, there are several non-surgical treatment options available. These include:

1. Rest and ice: Give the muscles time to rest and apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

2. Over-the-counter pain medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

3. Gentle stretching and exercises: Once the acute pain subsides, gentle stretching and exercises can help improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles. Consult with a physical therapist for specific exercises tailored to your needs.

4. Heat therapy: After the initial acute phase, applying heat to the sore muscles can help relax them and promote healing. Heat can be applied using a heating pad or warm compresses.

It’s important to note that if the pain persists or worsens, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment. They can provide a more personalized approach and determine if any additional interventions are necessary.

Shoveling snow can lead to sore and strained muscles, particularly in the lower back, shoulders, and arms. Taking preventative measures, using proper body mechanics, and engaging in regular exercise can help minimize the risk of muscle soreness and strain. If muscle soreness does occur, non-surgical treatment options such as rest, ice, pain medications, gentle stretching, and heat therapy can help alleviate symptoms.