Shoveling Tips to Avoid Injury

Shoveling Tips to Avoid Injury

Do you feel drained and suffer low back pain after shoveling snow? This is due to the excessive force being transferred to your low back. The key when shoveling, is to minimize the stress being placed on the low back. The muscles along the spine are designed to stabilize the spine, they are not designed for high force.

Warm-up Before you Shovel 

Take five to 10 minutes to warm up your body and get the blood flowing.

  1. Begin with basic squats – Place your feet hip-width apart, weight in your heels, go only as low as you can without lifting your heels off the ground.  Engage your abs when squatting. Do a set of 15 reps.
  2. Arm circles – Imagine you are doing the backstroke and freestyle swim.  Gently move each arm through a circle in both directions for about 10 repetitions.  Do not force the circle, keep it within your range of motion.
  3. Neck stretches – Standing or sitting up very straight, place one arm behind your back and gently tilt your ear down towards your shoulder on both sides.  Do it slowly and breathe through this movement.  Do this 5 times on each side.
  4. Torso rotation –Stand up straight and slightly bend your knees.  Rotate your upper body side to side, as if to look over your shoulder on both the right and left sides.  Do not make this ballistic or fast.  Keep it smooth.  Keep the twist comfortable. Do 10 on each side.
  5. Hamstring stretch – While holding onto the table, lift your leg and place it on the seat of a chair.  Square your hips and shoulders with your lifted leg and gently reach for your knee, shin, or toes.  Do your best to keep both legs straight (without locking your knee).  Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then switch.  Do this 3 times on each leg.

Use Proper Body Mechanics

Be prepared by wearing good boots with traction!. More people receive care as a result of falling rather than injuries from shoveling.

Most people bend over their shovel from the waist and then twist their body to lift the snow and throw it behind them, over and over again. Instead, use your hips and legs. Bend with your legs as you scoop the snow then raise your body by straightening your legs to toss the snow. Keep your back straight and your stomach muscles tight, and hold the shovel closer to you. 

Turn your whole body when you throw the snow; do not twist at the waist. Lift the snow with your whole body, not just your upper body and back. Alternate sides when throwing the snow. Shovel small scoops with lighter loads.

Remember to move your feet. Step forward when you push into the snow and step back after lifting it. Then take a step toward where you are going to deposit it. This helps you avoid twisting motions that can lead to serious back injuries.

Lastly, Stretch After Shoveling

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