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Lift Light, Shovel Right

Snow Covered Trees

How to Shovel Snow Properly

Winter has officially begun – although word from Nasa is that 2011 has registered as the 9th hottest year since 1880 after 2010 was the hottest ever recorded. Regardless of the warming trend, people have pulled out their shovels to battle the snow that has fallen in Ontario for the past few weeks.

Unfortunately many people ‘pull’ more then just the shovel out – pulling muscles and injuring their back! 🙁 While shoveling your driveway you are likely pushing hundreds of pounds of snow. The Ontario Chiropractic Association has a brochure entitled ‘Lift Light Shovel Right‘. It provides tips and strategies to reduce your chances of being injured when shoveling snow.

Key Recommendations

  • Warm-up: It is a good idea to go for a 10-15 minute walk or go up and down your stairwell a few times followed by some light stretching to increase muscle temperature and flexibility prior to shoveling.
  • Don’t let the snow pile up: It there is a large snowstorm – try and break the shoveling into parts. If you can shovel once or twice through the snowstorm and then again when it is done you’ll be moving less snow per session.
  • Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pushertype shovel. If you are using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon first, so snow won’t stick to it.
  • Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.
  • Bend your knees: If you find you have to lift a shovelful of snow, use your knees and your leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, come see me. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a medical doctor immediately.

Follow these tips and you’ll be less likely to show up in my office after a large snowfall!

IF (Interesting Fact) – did you know you can spell shoveling with either one or two ‘l’s?

Note: This Blog Post was featured on the GoodLife Fitness Blog.


Downtown Toronto Professor, Chiropractor, Sports Therapist, Strength & Conditioning Specialist. I have an immense passion for all things health and fitness! Contact Dr. Jory


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