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Protect Your Back While Shoveling Snow

Tips to Avoid Neck and Back Injury While Shoveling Snow This Winter:

  • Pace yourself. Shovel for 5-10 minutes at a time, then rest to catch your breath and do a few stretches, holding each for a few seconds:
    1. Standing firmly on both feet, lean slightly back at the waist, then bend forward slightly, making your back into a small C shape.
    2. For your neck, look up and down slightly and then turn head slightly from side to side.
    3. For your shoulders: try squeezing your shoulder blades together and then round your shoulders forward, making another C shape with your back. Then do a few shoulder shrugs.
  • Use a shovel with a long handle to give you more control and prevent you from leaning too far forward.
  • Make sure to keep your body square to the shovel (your feet and shoulders should face the shovel).
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and keep your back straight. Use your legs to push into the snow and only take small scoops.
  • Once you have a shovelful, grasp the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as you can. Move your feet to face the area where you will put the snow.

After Shoveling:

  • Make sure to stretch again and drink plenty of water.
  • Soreness may develop, usually at its greatest 24-48 hours afterwards. Make sure to do some light exercise, which can help to reduce the severity of the soreness.
  • Ice and pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen maybe helpful for a day or two afterwards.

​Avoid Snow Shoveling If:

  • You have had recent back or neck surgery or are under work restrictions.
  • You are physically out of shape.
  • You have health conditions such as angina, or other heart conditions.

This blog article was written by Twin Cities Physician Assistant Rebecca Pelkola