Snow Shoveling Safety

snow shoveling

Baby, it’s cold outside!  ‘Tis the season to saddle up and prepare to meet the snow with your trusty shovel.

Which means it’s also time to talk about snow shoveling safety.

During the season of ice and snow, so many people come to see me.  They’ve fallen.  They’ve tripped and done a faceplant in a snowbank.  They’ve started shoveling their walkway and sidewalk in an upright position and returned to the warmth of their homes doubled over.

Knowing how to shovel right is a must for New York City winters, so I’m here to give you some helpful tips about how to do it in a way that doesn’t mess up your back.

Gear up.

When winter comes, far too many people sport an attitude about the cold and their ability to withstand it.  They truly believe that going outside without the proper clothing is the mark of a hardy survivor.  New Yorker’s don’t shrink from the cold!  We meet it head on (in a windbreaker, jeans and sneakers).


You need to dress for the activity you’re about to engage in.  It’s hard work, so you think you’ll be warm once you get going.  While that’s true, you’ll also be sweaty and in sub-zero conditions, that can mean trouble.

Wear a hat, gloves or mittens and a heavy coat.  Most importantly, have the right footwear.  Good, solid boots which are waterproof and equipped with treads that grip the ground will help prevent the kind of falls that send you to my office.

Warm up.

As with any strenuous activity, you need to prepare your body for snow shoveling.  That means warming up your whole body.  Your shoulders and arms are going to be working hard, so pay special attention to them.

Don’t forget your quadriceps, because you’ll be needing them to lift the heavy shovelfuls of snow you’ll be lifting off the ground (with your legs and not your back, of course).

Protect your back.

As I’ve just pointed out, snow is heavy.  When you lift it, you can’t be lifting with your back.  That’s a recipe for certain disaster and a ticket to my office.

No matter what you’re lifting, using your quadriceps muscles (which you will have thoroughly warmed up) to do most of the work will save your back.

When depositing the snow you’re shoveling, resist the temptation to twist to do it.  Instead, use your feet to turn toward the target area.  This can help you prevent pulling major muscles in the back.

Back & Body Medical.

I know that some of you reading this post will make a mental note of these snow shoveling safety tips.  Others, however, won’t do that, so it’s likely I’ll be seeing you soon!

But never fear.  At Back & Body Medical, we’re a multi-disciplinarian team practicing the disciplines of chiropractic, physical therapy, sports medicine and acupuncture.  We’ll work together to get you back into snow shoveling form, with an integrated approach that expedites healing.

When snow shoveling goes wrong, contact Back & Body.

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