Tips for Snow Shoveling

Snow shoveling is one of the more common causes of back injuries during the winter months. However, this type of injury is preventable if you know the best ways to remove snow without straining the back. The following snow removal tips can help you to avoid low back injuries and pain during the snowy winter season.

Pick The Right Shovel

• An ergonomic snow shovel can help take some of

the effort out of snow removal chores.

• A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable

handle length will minimize painful bending,

requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and

arch your back very slightly while keeping the

shovel blade on the ground.

Warm Up Thoroughly

• Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than

warmed up, flexible muscles. Do your back a favor

by warming up for five to ten minutes before

shoveling or any strenuous activity.

• Stretch your low back and hamstrings (the large

muscles in the back of the thigh) with some gentle

stretching exercises.

Use Ergonomic Lifting Techniques

• Whenever possible, push the snow to one side

rather than lifting it.

• Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the

chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees

and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back


• Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that

is too heavy for you.

• If you must lift a shovel full, grip the shovel with one

hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible

and the other hand on the handle (handle and arm

length will vary the technique).

• Avoid twisting the back to move the snow to its new

location – always pivot your whole body to face the

new direction.

• Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather

than reaching or tossing.

Pace Yourself

• Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less

strenuous than shoveling a large pile at once.

• In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a

time, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth

at once.

• When shoveling, take frequent short breaks.

Keeping these guidelines in mind during the winter season will lessen the chances of developing new back problems or worsening your low back pain while shoveling, and hopefully make your winter a healthier and more enjoyable experience.

Fairport Chiropractic1157 Fairport Road
Fairport, NY 14450