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How Not To Hurt Yourself While Shoveling

With increased physical activity, your body always needs more care before / during / after the activity in order to stay aligned. Shoveling is no exception. Some of these tips can be applied to other activities including mowing the lawn, gardening, household cleaning, exercising, household repairs, sports, long distance driving and more.

1. Warm up before Shoveling: Get your body ready for strenuous activity with a brief warm up: try marching in place for five or ten minutes and stretch your arms and back.

2. Dress Appropriately: Wear the right layers to keep your body warm and prevent frostbite.

3. Use a Small Shovel that has a Curved Handle. A shovel with wet snow can weigh up to 15 pounds or 6.8 kilos, so using a small shovel keeps the load under control.

4. Separate your Hands on the shovel to increase your leverage.

5. Lift with your LEGS, not your Back.

6. Clear Snow EARLY and OFTEN. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid trying to clear packed, heavy snow.

7. PUSH the Snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow and lift with your legs: Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist. Then walk to where you want to dump the snow; holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine.

8. Pace Yourself: Be sure to take plenty of breaks if you're clearing deep snow or covering a lot of ground.

9. Drink Plenty of Water. You'll need to stay hydrated, even in frigid temperatures.

10. Skip the Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol before Shoveling: Caffeine and nicotine can increase your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, while alcohol can dull your senses and make you vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite.

***There are also specific spinal corrective rehabs to do BEFORE and AFTER activities like this to prepare and cool down your body. Ask one of the doctors during your adjustment as everyone’s bodies are different and need different rehab. Call 631-647-8324 to schedule an appointment or book online.

(Loyola University tips found at:

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