Tips to Prevent Back Injuries While Shoveling Snow

Man shoveling snow on the street

People across the country are beginning to dread the prospect of having to clear their driveways of snow as winter approaches. Despite being an additional nuisance to your morning routine, shoveling snow can be a convenient way to get a great workout done. If you know the correct way to shovel snow, you may find it enjoyable to do. Combine this chore with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and you’re in for a dreadful few months...but, it doesn’t have to be that way! 

You’re probably aware of the dangers of unshoveled driveways and sidewalks, such as slipping on ice or tripping over large chunks of snow. However, shoveling with poor form and the incorrect techniques can also cause severe back and neck injuries. Nearly 12,000 Americans wind up in the ER each winter due to shoveling related injuries.  

This guide will give you the necessary information on how you can most effectively shovel snow while ensuring your back remains ache-free! 

Get the right gear

Aside from having a warm hat, cozy gloves, and an insulated jacket, you also need to make sure you’ve got the appropriate footwear. One of the most overlooked pieces of attire is a pair of sturdy winter boots with lots of traction. Having a reliable pair of boots will prevent you from slipping on any hidden black ice, leading to potential back or spinal injuries. 


A pair of brown winter boots

Tip: Spray your plastic shovel with cooking spray to prevent snow from sticking to it.

Learn the proper technique

As soon as you're bundled up from head to toe and have your shovel at the ready, it's time to get outside and start digging. But first, not so fast! Be sure to do 5-10 minutes of light stretches prior to heading out the door. This will ensure that you’re limber and ready to go. Here are a few of our favorites.

Proper shoveling technique:

  1. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs. Repeatedly bending over at the waist is a recipe for injuring your back. 
  2. Keep the shovel close to you as you’re lifting up the snow. It will reduce the amount of weight put on your back.
  3. Always position your feet closest to the area you’re shoveling. 

If possible, try to go outside and shovel multiple times throughout each snowstorm. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you wait until the storm is over, more snow will be accumulated. As a result, there is a high risk of throwing out your back. If there’s an abundant amount of snow, and it’s wet, refrain from clearing it all in one scoop. Instead, skim off the first half of the snow in the first scoop and clear the remainder with a second scoop. 

Prevent injuries before they happen

With a few more weeks until winter is in full swing, now is the perfect time to start increasing your proprioception abilities. Simply put, proprioception is “the body’s ability to sense its location, movements, and actions.” Strengthening your body’s ability to be aware of its surroundings can play a vital role in preventing accidental stumbles and injuries. There are different ways to improve this ability, such as the use of a one-legged wedge.

Stay tuned for more health-related articles. We're here to give you tips on how to avoid injuries and teach you some fitness exercises to help you with your wellness. 

If you're up for a more challenging workout, try using our products that will help you with balancing, stretching and more. Be sure to shop our collections today! 

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