The winter months can be brutal here in the Laurel Highlands. Living in an area with a mountainous terrain increases the chances of heavy snowfall during the winter months. Aside from slipping on ice, shoveling snow is the number one injury we see patients experience this time of the year. In this week’s blog, we will educate readers on how to properly remove snow without injury and identify what we can do to help if you do get hurt. 

How Do Snow Shoveling Injuries Occur?

Nobody wants to be outside in the freezing cold shoveling snow, and if they are outside, they would much rather be making a snowman or throwing snowballs, right? Aside from improper shoveling technique, most back injuries happen because they either rushed through it or endured too much weight with each scoop. These two issues contribute to improper shoveling techniques.

When you see someone shoveling snow incorrectly, it may include:

  • A curved and twisted back
  • Feet are too close together
  •  Unbent hips
  • Twisting or throwing snow the shoulder

How Can You Prevent Snow Shoveling Injuries?

First and foremost, make sure you are wearing boots or a thick, warm shoe with good traction to prevent falls. Second, this isn’t a race. Snow blowers are becoming more popular nowadays, but many people choose to shovel their driveways and walkways because they are not large enough to need a snowblower, or the investment isn’t worth the time. If you are shoveling a large driveway/walkway, take breaks. Plus, don’t take on more weight than you can handle with each scoop. Rushing through the job only increases the chances of a sustained injury. 

Another thing to consider is to get a shovel that fits your height. A smaller shovel will result in excessive back bend. A shovel that is too big creates awkward positioning which will result in improper body mechanics. Make sure you are using a snow shovel and not a shovel for dirt. A snow shovel is wider and will prevent needing to scoop more times in a single session.

Below is a list of to do’s when shoveling snow and a reference diagram.

  • Bend low at the knees with your hips. Not your back.
  • Have a wide stance. 
  • Scoop and lift upward with your knees. Do not lift with your back.
  • Turn sideways without twisting your back. Point your feet in the direction you are throwing and toss the snow.
  • If snow is deeper than one foot, use your shovel as a blade to chop it down before shoveling. This prevents lifting more snow than one can handle.

snow shovel tips

What Can We Do to Help?

If you hurt your back while shoveling snow, it is going to be okay. We can help you with routine chiropractic care. Most snow shoveling cases involve a tweak in the nervous system from overexertion; however, in some cases, there may be an underlying cause such as a disc injury. If a disc injury was sustained, we can help with our non-surgical spinal decompression program. To learn more about our spinal decompression program, refer to our blog, “Decompression: A Deeper Solution to Chronic Pain.” 

As we continue to fight through the winter months, please keep in mind how important it is to treat the human body and the consequences that occur if we are not careful. If you have any questions about proper snow shoveling removal, please feel free to call us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website at for more blog content. 

Yours In Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC

Brian M. Steinert, DC