Follow these Simple Tips for Safe and Injury-Free Snow Shoveling

Author: Lindsey Ulrich

"Make sure you're taking a moment to stand up and give your back and legs a rest." 


Snow and winter weather can wreak havoc on roads and clobber your commute, but they don’t have to batter your back if you follow a few simple tips to safely combat the sometimes-physically demanding removal of a fresh snowfall.

Prepare yourself prior to shoveling. This includes:

  • Take a short walk or perform another activity to promote blood flow.
  • Perform stretches in both your upper and lower body to loosen up your muscles and increase movement.
  • Review your footwear; it is best to grab boots with good tread to keep you from slipping on ice or snow.
  • Your shovel should be the right length for you. Look for a shovel that is the shortest length that lets you keep standing up straight while you sling the snow.

Having the proper technique can also lessen your risk of an injury.

  "The most important thing to do is to protect your back. Remember to bend at your knees and hips, keeping a wider base of support for stability,” said Karla LaFond, MSPT at McLaren Rehabilitation Services. “Before you lift the snow, engage your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine and keeping your back in a neutral position.”

Other important tips include making sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, avoid twisting when lifting heavy or wet snow, and taking it slow.

“Don’t forget that you can and should take a break while shoveling. Make sure you’re taking a moment to stand up and give your back and legs a rest,” said LaFond.

If you have a history of heart problems, it is best to speak with your health care provider before shoveling.

If you need help getting stronger or more flexible before you start shoveling, click here to see how McLaren Rehabilitation Services can help you.