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Ways to Avoid Back Pain When Shoveling Snow

With Winter in full swing, here are some basic snow shoveling tips pulled from Peter Schubbe’s article, “Snow Shoveling Techniques to Prevent Low Back Injuries”:

Pick the Right Snow Shovel

  • A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending.

  • A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.

Warm Up Thoroughly

Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity.

  • Get your blood moving with a brisk walk, marching in place, or another full-body activity.

Use Ergonomic Lifting Techniques

Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting the snow shovel is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic lifting techniques:

  • Always face towards the object you intend to lift - have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it.

  • Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight.

  • Avoid twisting the back to move the snow to its new location.

  • Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather than reaching or tossing.

Pace Yourself

Shoveling small amounts of snow frequently is less strenuous than shoveling a large pile at once.

  • In deep snow, remove a few inches off the top at a time, rather than attempting to shovel the full depth at once.

  • When shoveling, take a break for a minute or two every 10-15 minutes.

For more details, please check out Schubbe’s full article provided in the References section.


Schubbe, P. (2013, Dec. 16). Snow Shoveling Techniques to Prevent Low Back Injuries. Veritas Health.

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