Now I Have to Shovel...

Shoveling Tips

Posted: January 23, 2016
By: Dr Keri Freshour

Snow Shoveling Tips To Prevent Lower Back Pain

Snow shoveling isn't our favorite activities...but it's one of the most common causes why chiropractors see lower back injuries during the winter season. However, if done correctly, you can prevent injury and have an excellent workout. Here are a few tips to help you remove snow without straining your back.

Buy An Ergonomic Snow Shovel

Ergonomic snow shovels can help reduce the effort when shoveling. Make sure you select one that has a curved handle or an adjustable handle length to minimize bending. Try to select one that is lightweight as well.  Here are many ergonomic snow shovels in the market that are lightweight, small, and durable.

Stretch Before You Shovel

Cold, tight muscles are easier to injure. Take a few minutes and warm up before tackling that snow.

  • Take a walk around the house, march in place or do another full-body activity such as jumping jacks
  • Stretch your lower back and hamstrings - reach for your toes; stretch your arms to the sky
  • Loosen your arms, legs and shoulders - forward and backward arm circles

Shovel Slowly And Take Frequent Breaks

Even if you try to shovel fast, it is very likely that you will get injured and end up taking longer to finish the job compared to if you take it easy and give yourself breaks. Try to shovel only a few inches at a time. It is much easier, faster and puts less strain on your body. Also, don't forget to take breaks frequently and stretch your muscles; this gives your back muscles a break. Don’t forget—slow and’s not a race!

Use Ergonomic Lifting Techniques

Ideally, you would want to PUSH the snow to the side rather than lifting it. This is easy if you have a narrow path you are cleaning or you are working on the sidewalk. For wider areas, such as a driveway, here are some ergonomic techniques you can use to shovel snow:

  • Face towards the object you want to lift and have your shoulders and hips squarely facing it.
  • Bend at the hips, not the lower back, and push your chest out. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles making sure you keep your back straight.
  • Keep your loads light, but if you need to lift a shovel full, grip it with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and grip the handle with the other one.
  • Avoid twisting your back to move the snow. Always pivot your whole body to face the new direction.
  • When you need to move the snow further away from you, walk to the new location rather than reaching or tossing.

Keep Your Mind Occupied

Keep your mind busy and off the task of shoveling.  Take note of your surroundings.  Is the landscaping ideal for summer and winter use?  Are there shrubs that are planted too close to walkways or driveways?  Have they grown bigger than when originally planted?  Do they need to be relocated?  Are there branches that need to be trimmed back in the springtime?


Get A Snow Blower

Even though snow blowers can be an investment, they will save you a lot of time and minimize the risk of getting injured. Here are some articles with tips on how to pick the right snow blower for you: Snow Blowers DirectLowesCNN