Prevent Low Back Pain while Shoveling Snow

As I was shoveling the snow off my driveway this week, I quickly realized that I needed to adjust my technique or I was going to pay for it later. Injury can result from repetitive movements with a general lack of awareness and variability in movement and may be prevented with some easy steps.

First, a person must be aware of his or her body in space. Understanding the force of gravity on your body and how your posture affects your movement. Therefore, try and maintain an upright position.

Second, activate your core muscles while shoveling. Muscles are active and act as stabilizers for body position. If you do not actively use them, then you can be setting yourself up for some problems.  The most important muscles to consider are your abdomen and trunk rotators.

Third, focus on your breathing. Breath in, hold it for a second as you begin to shovel then exhale into the lunge/throw. You will notice that as you exhale, your core and trunk muscle will tighten, making a natural corset for your back, stabilizing your body through the work.

Last, begin the technique with your front leg accept the weight of your body/snow and use your legs to lift the snow. Pivot on your outside leg and lunge into the forward leg again to throw. Switch sides/legs/throwing arm every 5-10 throws and take a break every 10 minutes.

If you find yourself in some pain, or feeling weakened, with or without a doctor’s referral, stop by any one of our 11 local clinics at Rehab Associates of Central Virginia to have one of our specialists evaluate your pain or symptoms and provide you with a recovery plan as well as a prevention plan so that you will be better equip for future shoveling as I’m sure it will snow again. You can find a clinic near you at or call at 1-855-RACV4PT (1-855-7228478). We are Physical Therapy. Our Goal is Your Success!

Contributed by Richard Thom PT DPT-  Bedford Practice

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