Four Techniques To Remember When Shoveling This Winter

Authored by: VSI

Shovel away your low back pain this winter! Snow shoveling often leads to low back injuries, so it is important to practice proper shoveling techniques to avoid these injuries.



  • Warm Up: Think of shoveling like exercise; never start shoveling without a quick warm up! Get your heart rate up with a short walk or jog on the tread-mill or with a bike ride on a stationary bike.
  • Stretch: Focus on stretching the areas that are most engaged during shoveling: hamstrings, shoulders, and low back.
    • Stretch #1: Touch your fingers to the ground (or as far as you can go without bending your knees)
    • Stretch #2:  Raise your arms straight above your head and slowly stretch your neck on each side.


  • Sharp Blade: Just like a good knife, a sharp shovel blade allows you to move the most amount of snow efficiently.
  • Light Weight: A light snow shovel will alleviate much of the weight required for lifting (don’t underestimate the weight of snow by itself – it can get dangerously heavy).
  • Correct Length: When choosing the length of the shovel, make sure you are not bending forward, or leaning back too much.
    • Pick a shovel that has an adjustable handle length (so you can share the duty with other family members!).
    • Before purchasing your shovel, try it out at the store by simulating the act of shoveling.


  • Only lift when absolutely necessary! If you can push the snow to the side for a plow to pick up or for it to melt.
  • Bend at the hips and knees – never the low back.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight; Don’t twist your back when changing positions
  • Position one hand on the handle and the other near the shovel blade.
  • Don’t throw large amounts of snow from the shovel; rather walk to the location where you want the snow deposited.
  • Wear boots with proper gripping and apply sand or salt on the snow to prevent falls.


  • Just like when you lift weights, take breaks during sets, ie; shovel for 10-15 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break.
  • Let your body dictate how many breaks you need and always stretch during them.
  • STOP shoveling if you feel short of breath, dizzy, or experience chest pain. If these symptoms do not subside, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
  • STOP if you experience sudden sharp low back pain or pain shooting into your legs.

Using these simple guidelines will help free your car, and your back pain!

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