Move Well

Snow Shoveling Without Back Pain


Winter weather can pack a punch and, with the season’s heavy snowfalls, injuries often result. Improper snow shoveling and even snow blowing is often to blame.

But snow shoveling out after a storm can be an invigorating workout and doesn’t have to leave you stiff and sore. With a little know-how, you can clear your driveway without the all-too-common back, neck and shoulder pain cramping your style. Here’s how:

Before You Start

  • Stay hydrated and dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as you get warm.
  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
  • Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body. An ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue. Also, if you spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant, the snow will slide off more easily.
  • Before beginning any snow removal, warm up for five to 10 minutes to get your joints moving and increase blood circulation. A brisk walk will do it.


All Set to Go


Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning — position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.


Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.


Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Throw down some salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.

One of the most important things to remember is to stop yourself after a few minutes of vigorous work or maybe 15 minutes of moderate work. See how you feel before continuing. Far too often we just keep on going with the thought, “I’ve got to get this done.”


Call it a day, call a friend or pay the neighbour, but stop snow shoveling if you are getting sore. You don’t want to be looking back thinking you should have stopped. Once you stop, go inside and rest. Do a few simple stretches, have a hot bath or use ice if there is severe pain. Consider seeing a Chiropractor or Massage therapist if the pain continues for 48 hours.


Brought to you by Dr Kevin Matheson of Orillia and the Ontario Chiropractic Association.



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