Shoveling is one of those chores that you just can’t seem to let go when living in New England.  The last snow storm sent a lot of people to me with back pain and it looks like we are going to get hit with a late winter blizzard. Though I love to treat people, let’s see if we can’t save some backs. So here are some tips to, weather the storm (HA!- pun so intended).

1) Warm up before Shoveling

Shoveling is like a great strength and cardio workout all wrapped into one.  You wouldn’t go in cold at the gym, why do it when shoveling. (I’m so on these puns!) This can be as simple as doing a few jumping jacks, air squats,  standing back bends or thoracic rotations. Or, you can make it a little more complex and add in the ‘Worlds Greatest Stretch’. You just need to do something to tell your body ‘hey- we are going to be doing something intense for a bit, let’s make sure all muscles are coming to the party’.

2) Break up the Snow

Break up the Snow

I know that you just want to get it done, but taking smaller loads on the shovel is imperative. Just break it up to more manageable chunks.

3) Get Low to the Snow

Get Low

Get into a nice wide stance, this will already drop your body closer to your load, which should be right at your feet. The closer the snow is to your body, the less effort you will need to move it.

4) Stand up Tall

Stand Tall

This is important, I see a lot of people remain in a hunched over, flexed position while shoveling. Get your legs and bum involved! Your back will love you for it. For those in the know, this looks a lot like a Sumo Deadlift

5) Move your Feet to Toss

Turn and Toss

This is also VERY important, don’t just leave your feet planted, move them in the direction you want to toss the snow to lessen the rotational force on your back.

Pulling it all Together

Here is what it should look like.

Bonus Tips

  • Make sure you keep up with the snowfall. Doing little bits during the storm is so much better than one big bolus at the end.
  • Make sure that when you come in from the cold, you give back a little break. Lie on the floor, belly down for 5-10 minutes. During this time, sip some hot chocolate and do some press ups.
  • Biggest tip, get someone else to do it for you! (Kids are great for this!)

“Find a Friend”

Try these steps the next time you have to shovel, your back will thank you. If you do have back pain after that you are unable to manage, make sure to reach out to a great physical therapist!