It's that time of year again, folks.
Every winter there are countless shoulder injuries that occur due to shoveling snow. A common symptom of this is shoulder pain can be felt when lifting the shoulders up or reaching them back. Stiffness and inflammation is common with shoulder injuries as well as shoulder pain. Shoulder injuries from shoveling snow often result in shoulder tendinitis or rotator cuff tendinitis. This is very common with people that are constantly doing shoulder shoulder movements that their shoulder is not meant to do or that they simply aren't fit enough to do.
Sadly, most of the time people just aren't in good enough shape to do that type of repetitive movement for as long as it usually takes to clear the driveway!
How to avoid snow shoveling shoulder pain altogether
There are many things that you can do to avoid shoulder injury from shoveling snow. The first thing would be to make sure your back is properly aligned before you begin shoveling. Make sure your shoulder blades are pulled back so you have a good shoulder curve. Also avoid throwing the snow high in the air as this puts unnecessary stress on your shoulder and can lead to shoulder injuries like tendinitis or rotator cuff tendinitis.
Another thing that is helpful not to do while shoveling is picking up the snow. If you are able to push the snow, do that instead. Pushing the snow is easier on your shoulder and limits how much stress is put on it during shoveling.
Another thing that really helps in avoiding shoulder pain from shoveling snow is bending and lifting with your legs instead of your waist.
How to treat shoulder pain after shoveling snow
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, which means it can be vulnerable to injury.
If shoulder pain from shoveling snow is not avoided and shoulder injury does occur, treatment will depend on the severity of shoulder pain. If shoulder pain is mild, treatment can include taking over the counter anti inflammatory medication, resting and icing. If you know you hurt your shoulder, you should ice it for 15 minutes as soon as possible. Then, remove ice for 15-30 minutes, and repeat. Do this for a couple of hours to reduce inflammation and thus reducing the shoulder pain.
If the shoulder pain is severe enough to limit movement of your shoulder, there's likely shoulder inflammation present and possibly even a rotator cuff tear or other shoulder impingment issue. In this case, you should try an over the door shoulder pulley to slowly regain range of motion. This movement will help shoulder pain from shoveling snow because it lubricates the shoulder joint, allowing for better pain free range of motion while also allowing the body to heal itself. If pain persists, you should make an appointment to see your PT or other medical professional for an assessment.
After your shoulder pain has been treated, it's important to limit activities that cause shoulder pain until the shoulder has completed healed. This means avoiding any activities that can lead to another shoulder injury like reaching overhead or repetitive shoulder movements.
Research shows that pain in the shoulder (and knee, for that matter) are most often related to weakness at the core.
Recently we offered a 30 Day Posture Challenge at RangeMasterU. We still have all of the content available for free, and we promise that if you go through this 30 day course, you will have a much stronger core and in return, your body will thank you with less frequent shoulder and knee pain!
If you'd like to register for RangeMasterU and check out more of the content that's inside, please register and use the personal code "shovelingsnow" to get access.