Winter weather can pack a punch. And with the season’s heavy snowfalls, improper snow shovelling is often to blame for injuries.

Shovelling your walkway or driveway after a storm doesn’t have to leave you stiff and sore. With a little know-how, you can clear the snow without the all-too-common back, neck and shoulder pain. Here’s how:

Before you start

  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in the winter months as it is in the summer.
  • Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as you get warm.
  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
  • Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body. An ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue. Also, if you spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant, the snow will slide off more easily.
  • Warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes before beginning any snow removal to get your joints moving and increase blood circulation. A brisk walk will do it.

Three snow shovelling techniques so you can stay safe and fit all winter

Push, don’t throw
Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning — position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

Bend your knees
Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

Watch for ice
Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can lead to ice building up underfoot, resulting in nasty slips and falls. Throw down some salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.

If you do experience pain, consult a health care professional to assess your specific needs and identify a course of action that’s right for you. Ask your chiropractor for an evaluation.

To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional.