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Chiropractic Tips for Pain-Free Snow Shoveling

By Rachel Carver

Cold Ohio weather will bring snow. Snow needs to be removed from steps, sidewalks, driveways, and other high-traffic areas.

Whether you love snow or will pick up the shovel reluctantly this winter, it is important to take precautions to avoid injury and unnecessary pain. Read on for some chiropractic tips for safe shoveling.

Warm Up

View snow shoveling as another workout. You wouldn't go from sitting on the couch to running a mile without some stretching. Focus on stretching your back and hamstrings. This will loosen muscles, improve blood flow, and prepare the spine for a hard workout. Warming up also prepares your heart and other internal organs.

Dress for the Weather

Even though shoveling is physical, it is still cold outside. Dress in layers to stay warm and improve your oxygen supply and blood flow.

Wear lose clothing for insulation and that keeps you dry. Invest in quality boots. The last thing you want to do is fall while holding a shovel full of heavy snow.


We tend to drink less in cool temperatures. But our bodies still need fluid, especially when engaging in physical activities. You will sweat while you shovel, even if it is cold. Dehydration can actually decrease the body's ability to regulate heat, making the underlying tissues cold and numb. Drink water before you shovel. And keep hydrating during shoveling breaks.

Time Matters

Certain weather conditions and times of day are better for shoveling.

  • Decrease the risk of herniating a spinal disc by avoiding shoveling right after waking up when your spinal discs are most hydrated
  • Shovel frequently during a snow storm to avoid moving deep snow
  • Spread sand or rock salt to increase traction and reduce fall risks
  • Don't shovel snow after consuming a heavy meal or drinking alcohol

Use an Ergonomic Shovel

Use a shovel that will reduce the strain on your lower back. Look for the following in a snow shovel:

  • Hand grips for a sturdy grasp
  • Appropriate height - the shovel handle should come up to your elbow or chest when the blade is on the ground
  • A shaft with adjustable length and width options
  • A curved shaft that lets you push the snow with less bending and twisting

Shovel Carefully

Shoveling is not a race. Start slowly to avoid trauma to your lower back. It is better to move smaller piles of snow than to try to pick up larger amounts. Take breaks every 10-15 minutes to hydrate and stretch your arms, back, and shoulders. Keep your back straight, and lift with your legs as much as possible.

If you do experience joint pain from shoveling or other activities this winter, don't delay seeking treatment. Your neighborhood Joint Chiropractic can assess your pain and get you back to your life with an adjustment. The Joint's affordable pricing and walk-in visits make care accessible to everyone.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in University Heights, Ohio.

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