Snow Shoveling Tips from Gooden Family Chiropractic

One of the more common causes of back injuries during the winter months is from shoveling snow.  Most injuries are merely sprain/strain issues related to the muscles and tendons.  A common injury to the spine is spinal misalignment or subluxation where the bones are not moving properly.  When bones are not moving correctly this will affect your activities of daily living.  Less common, but more serious injury is damage to your disc in your spine.  Many patients have avoided needless surgery or dependency on pain pills by choosing conservative chiropractic care for disc problems or spinal misalignment.  The chiropractic approach to these problems help to restore better motion and slow down arthritis and degenerative changes which affect your activities.


There is some preventable measure that you can take to remove snow and avoid lower back injuries or pain during the snowy winter season.  Gooden Family Chiropractic, LLC and the American Chiropractic Association offers this list of tips for shoveling.


Warm-up Before Shoveling – Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up ones, flexible muscles.  Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before grabbing the shovel or participating in any strenuous activity.

  • Get your blood moving with a brisk walk or march in place for a while.
  • Then, stretch your lower back and hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) with some gentle stretching exercises.
  • Limber up your arms and shoulders with slight stretching that you hold for 30-60 seconds.

Pick the Right Snow Shovel – An ergonomic snow shovel can help take some of the effort out of snow removal chores.

  • A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending, requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground.
  • A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.
  • Push the snow straight ahead and do not throw it while turning or twisting.  Walk it to the snow bank.
  • Do not lift snow with your back!  Keep your back straight, engage your core muscles and lift with your legs/hips.
  • Take frequent breaks to take the strain off muscles.  A tired body is asking for injury.
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, become really tired or have shortness of breath.  You may need immediate professional help.


For more information on how to prevent and treat injuries or relieve pain related to shoveling snow, call Dr. Tara Gooden to set up an appointment for an evaluation and treatment.  Phone:  641-954-9043, Gooden Family Chiropractic, LLC, 1223 Theatre Dr. Suite B, Ottumwa, Iowa 52501,