Snow Shoveling: Protecting Yourself

This week’s topic of the week. I just realized I never posted it.

The weight of the snow on the shovel blade can cause significant stress on the neck and back.  It is common for people to “push through” any pain to get the task done.  Also, snow shoveling is vigorous exercise and can cause heart attacks to those who have heart conditions.


  • Start slowly, using small amounts of snow to get your muscles warmed up.  Warming up helps minimize damage to your muscles and tendons.  Warm muscles work more efficiently.  Starting slowly also helps your heart warm up.

  • When lifting, hold the shovel close to the blade. This brings the weight of the snow closer to your center of gravity, causing less of a strain on your spine.

  • Lock your spine* when lifting because it will increase strength and lessen chance of injury.

  • Lifting with your knees will also protect your spine.

  • Don’t twist. Our lower back is not designed for twisting and which causes abnormal stress on the discs.

  • Consider a smaller blade shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.

  • Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.

  • Listen to your body. Be aware and adjust your body for discomfort. Stop if you feel pain.

  • If you continue to have pain for more than three days, you may have caused damage and are out of alignment. Call us to get scheduled.

  • If you are in chronic pain, do not take medication before shoveling. Drugs mask pain, causing us to think that we are fine while we cause more damage to our bodies.

*“Locking Your Spine” is a technique that I teach in my health class. In it, I go over things that will hurt our necks and backs, things that we can do to protect ourselves, and proper lifting, sitting, sleeping, and diet tips.  While I request all new patients to attend the class, it is also free and open to the public. You can call my office to schedule for the next class.

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About Dr. Michael Polsinelli, DC

I really enjoy my work. It is a combination of listening, analyzing, and the skill of performing my craft. I love the expression on my patients faces when I puzzle out a long standing problem of theirs, or when their pain leaves after gently adjusting them. Read more about me

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