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How to Shovel Snow Without the Health Blow

By Dr. Molly Casey

Tips for Shoveling Snow

Snow. Some love it, others hate it. If it’s in your life, it’s likely you’ve had to deal with shoveling snow at some point. And for many, that’s a sure trip to the chiropractor the following day. It may be March, but that doesn’t mean the snow days are over.

First things first. If you have access to a snow blower, use it. It will often save you a great deal of physical stress! If you don’t have access to a snow blower, read over the tips below for shoveling as safely as possible and with as few physical ramifications as possible. Of course, let your chiropractor help your body adapt to the stresses of such a workout by getting your back adjusted!

Pick the Right Shovel

Choosing the right shovel for the job takes a little preparation. The length and direction of the handle matter, as well as the weight of the shovel. These elements can work with you or against you in your shoveling process.

  • Best options are an adjustable handle or one with a curve/bend in it; this helps decrease bending over and improper weight distribution
  • Lighter, plastic weight shovels limit, or decrease, the amount of snow you can move with each motion; such restrictions limit the amount of stress you put on your body (people endanger their health when they unknowingly move too much snow at one time)

Warm Up

At some point in your snow shoveling life, you’ve likely just thrown on a jacket and gloves and bolted out the door with the shovel only to be outside doing hard physical labor for more than an hour. This is not wise, helpful, or fun for your body. Shoveling puts a large physical demand on the body. It’s great exercise and must be treated as such.

  • Take 5-10 minutes prior to going outside and move your body; walk, do jumping jacks, or stretch. Get the circulation moving and the muscles warmed up

Correct Technique

Little attention is focused on technique yet this is largely what’ll bite folks in the back, if you will.

  • Bend your knees and hips not your back
  • Try to move snow rather than lifting as much as possible
  • Face forward toward the pile of snow you’re picking up/moving from
  • Turn your entire body when dumping snow off to another area (do not just turn/twist your back or your hips)
  • While lifting, have one hand as close as possible to the snow bucket/blade and keep it as close to your body as possible

Watch the Time

Be aware of the time and take breaks. It’s easy to get entirely caught up in simply finishing the job and grinding straight through the task. This isn’t the healthiest approach.

  • Every 15 minutes take a breather
  • If it’s a big job, break it into a couple different shifts of shoveling


Regular chiropractic care helps your spine and your body be in the best possible state to maneuver through tasks such as shoveling. A healthier spine is able to endure greater stress, so be sure to get your chiropractic adjustments before and after big bouts of shoveling.

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