Shoveling snow is part of regular everyday life during a northern winter, but the reality is, many people just don’t know how to do it safely. Shoveling snow incorrectly can cause back and core injuries, as well as cardiovascular strain and stress. To prevent injury this season, keep these simple tips in mind as you dig your way out of the storm!
1. Use the Right Tools
There are so many products out there that make shoveling easier on your body! For myself, I found a separate attachment for my shovel at a local hardware store that makes it much easier for me to grip the shovel and lift snow without straining my back. It’s called a Back Saver Grip, and it was only a few dollars. This one works really well for me. If you do some research, you will find all kinds of attachments available, as well as shovels with ergonomic handles or metal edges for gliding through snow more easily, shovels made from lighter or heavier materials, etc. Shop around for what works best for you. Your back will thank you!
2. Learn Proper Form
Shoveling is just like any other kind of lifting: if you’re doing it wrong you’re going to get hurt. So, the two components I would say are non-negotiable in terms of form for shoveling snow are knowing how to deadlift correctly, and learning how to properly brace yourself for the motion required. The most important thing to remember is DON’T round your back! Keeping your back rounded the entire time you are working is a major cause of injury while shoveling. I can feel the pressure on my lower back just thinking about it! Instead, you want to grab your shovel, brace your core tightly, keep your back STRAIGHT, and lift from your legs and power up when you are ready to throw the snow off your shovel. This is what a good deadlift looks like, and it will save your back.
One more time: stay low, brace your core, back straight, push the snow to the end of the row you are working on, and then deadlift it out of the way. Be forceful in your movement! This way, your core is engaged and you’re staying strong the entire time.
3. Warm Up Properly
It’s a good idea to do a quick warmup before you shovel snow, because shoveling is a real workout. It is hard. I don’t know anyone who goes out and shovels after a huge storm and comes back inside saying “that was easy!”. So, treat shoveling like any workout. We know that warming up before you exercise is good for your entire body. It gradually increases your body temperature and heart rate, which makes the hard work that follows easier on your heart and cardiovascular system. If you jump right into a workout like this and go from zero to sixty right away, it’s hard on you. A good warmup also increases blood flow to your muscles and warms up your joints, which helps prevent all kinds of injuries that can happen when you don’t take the time to properly prepare.
Click here to see proper snow shoveling technique in action: 👇