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Shoveling Snow: Tips for Avoiding Injuries

Shoveling Snow

Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain to the lower back and
shoulders. Back injuries due to snow shoveling are more likely to happen to people who may not
know that they are out of condition. Following these tips can help you avoid injuries:

  • Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than heavy shovelfuls. Be sure to take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back.
  • Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier. Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help prevent “next-day back fatigue.”
  • Avoid excessive twisting because the spine cannot tolerate twisting as well as it can tolerate other movements. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you are lifting with your legs.
  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.
  • Backward bending exercises while standing will help reverse the excessive forward bending of shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.
  • If you or anyone you know is experiencing back pain, consult a licensed physical therapist.\

Acknowledgment:
All contents © 2011, 2009 American Physical Therapy Association.
All rights reserved.


Dr. Shaden Ghattas

Dr. Shaden Ghattas

Physical Therapist - Shaden Ghattas, DPT is the founder of Universus Physical Therapy. She has a proven track record for the fast recovery of muscle and joint injuries, is expertly trained in spinal manipulation (great for lower back injuries) and is a posture & biomechanics expert. Shaden was a former All-American college athlete in her day and has the training and expertise to get any athlete back to sport. Her current passion is in yoga and the healing arts, so she is very in-tune with the specific needs of the yoga practitioner. Shaden also enjoys treating woman with pelvic pain or those looking to simply get their body back after baby. She is trained as a women’ health expert through the American Physical Therapy Association. Shaden is a very proud mother of two and enjoys hiking, biking, and going to the beach with her kids. Degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy from Stony Brook University Passions: Exercise, yoga, playing sports with her kids, traveling, reading, spirituality, personal growth
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