Ways to Prevent Back Pain When Shoveling Snow

Snowfall during the cold winter months makes shoveling the snow from your driveway and walkway an inevitability. Although it may not be enjoyable, shoveling snow is a great way to burn calories quickly. However, if not done correctly, shoveling snow may also induce back pain. This article will provide you with tips to help prevent the potential back pain caused by shoveling snow.

Shoveling Snow – Minimizing Your Risk for Injury

Shoveling snow is strenuous exercise. Just the thought of moving hundreds of pounds of snow and slush is enough to make your legs prickle, to make your arms and shoulders burn, and to make your back tire.

Shoveling snow is such strenuous exercise that, according to Harvard Medical School, an 185-pound person can expect to burn about 266 calories after just a half hour of shoveling. Like any physical activity, shoveling snow poses health risks exacerbated, in part, by weather.

man holding snow shovel outside of house

Using the Right Tool for the Job

Use the right tool and the proper technique. Choose a shovel with a small, plastic blade. A shovel with a plastic blade will weigh less than a shovel with a metal blade. At the same time, a shovel with a small blade will limit you to small scoops.

Additionally, it would be best to use a snow shovel that is ideal for your body type. For instance, taller people are less likely to experience back pain using shovels with longer handles. Snow shovels with adjustable handles are also available, enabling you to find the perfect length to accommodate your height.

Using the Proper Snow Shoveling Technique

As for the proper technique, stop us if you have heard this before, “lift with your legs, not with your back:”

  • Bend at your knees
  • Choke up on your shovel to keep blade as close to your body as possible
  • Push up with your legs, not the upper body or back, to lift the load and reduce strain on your back
  • Do not twist your body

Don’t overdo it. Take frequent breaks to catch your breath and drink water. Shoveling snow is a cardiovascular exercise that involves muscles in your legs, back, core, shoulders, and arms. Pushing a snow blower around is equally hard work. In either case, you need to hydrate as you would before, during, and after a gym workout.


group of snow shovels resting on fence

Alleviating Back Pain Caused by Shoveling Snow

Even if you follow all of the best practices, it is still possible to injure your back when shoveling snow. At Merckling Family Chiropractic, we can apply proven treatment methods to help alleviate this pain and teach you ways to prevent experiencing back pain in the future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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