Seasonal Challenges

Winter is upon us! Winter poses unique challenges and affects bodies differently than other seasons. One of the challenges endured in the winter is snow shoveling; also known as every Minnesotan’s favorite winter activity! Our tendency is to power through and finish the task as fast as possible. The problem with this strategy is it leads to poor body mechanics, and ultimately injury. Avoid days or even weeks of pain by taking the time to properly move snow.

Tips to protect the spine while shoveling:

  • Start with a warm up activity– raise body temperature with a warm-up to increase muscle elasticity and improve the flow of oxygen to muscles. This allows more intense or strenuous activities and decreases the likelihood of injury.
  • Dress warm & wear layers–  keep muscles warm and flexible when dealing with cold & frigid temperatures.
  • Find the proper shoveling stance– stand with feet approximately shoulder width apart to maintain balance, keep the shovel close to the body, and bend at the knees. Bending at the waist or back promotes fatigue and sore muscles! Try to maintain proper posture until the activity is complete. Selecting the correct size shovel is also important in maintaining safe posture.
  • Push instead of throw– always push snow straight ahead of the scoop instead of lifting the shovel to throw the snow. The motion of throwing is a twisting movement that strains tissue and increases the likelihood of injury. 
  • Take regular breaks– allow muscles, ligaments and joints time to rest. Shoveling is hard work and injury is more likely to occur when the body fatigues. 
  • Don’t wait until the snow is done falling– snow becomes heavy with moisture, making it difficult to move the more it falls. Fresh snow is lighter and easier to handle so clear snow regularly as it’s falling to avoid the additional weight of dense, heavy snow.
  • Stop shoveling if you experience pain!– This is very important and can’t be stressed enough. Pain is the body’s way of communicating ‘something is not right.’ Signs of pain include chest pain, shortness of breath, or tiredness during activity. This may be a sign medical attention is needed.


More Information

Consider these helpful tips to avoid injuries endured while shoveling, and protect the spine this winter. Please call or visit us if you’d like to know more, or have questions on how to stay pain free this winter. 

Skip to content