Lift Light. Shovel Right!

Up until this point, we’ve been pretty lucky with the amount of snow that’s accumulated – but winter isn’t over just yet! Snow shoveling is hard work and can be dangerous too. It has been reported that improper shoveling has landed 34,200 people in the emergency room and doctor’s offices in 2012. The most common injuries were reported to be sprains and strains, mainly to the back, shoulders and knees.  In case of heavy snowfall, it is important to make sure you have the proper tools and techniques to prevent injuries. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has a few tips to make sure you stay safe while tackling all that snow.


  1. Warm up. A quick 10-minute warm-up such as walking around the block will kick-start your muscles for the activity ahead and helps prevent injury.
  2. Don’t let snow pile up. If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow after each snowfall.
  3. Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight push shovel. If you’re pushing a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon, so snow won’t stick to it.
  4. Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to the side rather than throwing it away. This way you avoid lifting heavy shovels of snow, and abrupt twists or turns that may result in injury.
  5. Bend your knees. If you need to lift shovels of snow bend your knees, and use your leg and arm muscles to do the work, while keeping your back straight.
  6. Take  break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a break. Shake out your arms and legs to recharge.
  7. Keep comfort in mind
    • Dress for the weather. Layer your clothing so you can adapt to changing temperatures. If you become warm while outdoors, simply remove a layer or two to maximize comfort.
    • Stay Hydrated. Even though it’s cold outside, your body still needs plenty of fluids. Be sure to drink lots of water or fruit juice before, during and after shoveling. Remember – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
    • Take it slow. Rest when you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shoveling if you experience sudden or prolonged muscle pain.
    • Cool down. Take a walk and stretch out tense muscles.


Stop shoveling if you experience back or chest pain. If your chest pain is severe, see a medical doctor immediately. If your back, shoulder or knee pain persists for more than a few days after shoveling consult a chiropractor for an evaluation.