How to Protect Your Back While Shoveling Snow

Winter can be the most dreadful time of the year when it comes to shoveling snow. Not only is shoveling irritating, but it can put a strain on your neck and back. While the pain is not always avoidable, we have tips to help you keep your back in check while shoveling this holiday season. 

How to Prepare

Preparation is key for shoveling painlessly. When you are prepared with adequate tools and proper precautions, shoveling will be a breeze. Some important things to think about when preparing are: 

  • Sturdy Boots. Footwear with plenty of grip for traction will keep you from slipping and falling.
  • Durable Shovel. Lightweight and ergonomic shovels are the best options for shoveling. The snow is heavy enough on its own, so a lightweight shovel is essential, while ergonomic shovels have a second handle to create better leverage when lifting the snow. 
  • Stretch Your Muscles. Warming up by stretching before shoveling will prevent pulling a muscle in your legs, shoulders, or back. Starting to shovel slowly while picking up more snow each shovelful is a great way to warm up. 

Best Way to Shovel

Shoveling seems simple enough, but there are a few things you can implement to help move the process along.

  • Neutral is best. Your back is strongest when it’s in its natural, curved form, therefore overarching or straightening your back while shoveling can put your back at risk.
  • Lift with your legs. Instead of straining your back, choose to lift the snow with your leg muscles. This will keep your back safe while giving you a good glute workout. 
  • Start Small. You will thank yourself for choosing to shovel lighter loads. Remove the snow in layers to keep your back feeling good.
  • Pace Yourself. Take rests in between shovelfuls to catch your breath, stretch, or get some water. Shoveling is as strenuous as lifting weights, so treat your body how you would at the gym. 
  • Shovel ASAP. Snow is lightest directly after it has fallen, so shoveling as soon as you see it will take a great weight off of your shoulders. 
  • Push, Don’t Lift. If you have space, push the snow out of your way instead of lifting it. Pushing, while similarly strenuous, uses different muscles in your shoulders that you are less likely to pull while putting a majority of the stress on your legs to push.

Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy: 

While shoveling can be a “pain in the neck”, it doesn’t always have to lead to pain in your back. Following these tips can help keep your back feeling strong and healthy while shoveling. Yet sometimes, even the best tips and tricks may not make a difference for your pain. In this scenario, Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy is here to help! We focus on minimizing your pain while helping you regain the full function of your back. If you’ve injured your back while shoveling, or have been dealing with chronic pain for a while, contact us to make an appointment today.