Snow Shoveling Tips To Prevent Injuries

Snow Shoveling Tips To Prevent Injuries In Canton MA

Our chiropractic office in Canton MA is seeing an increasing number of patients with injuries caused by snow shoveling so we decided to pull together these snow-clearing tips for you. By following these simple tips for snow clearing you can avoid injuries to the shoulders, neck and back as well as more serious injuries such as heart attacks.

Best Shovels to Prevent Injuries in Canton MA

Choose a shovel that has a bent shaft because it will be friendlier to the low back stabilizing muscles. Numerous studies have shown that the contoured handle reduces forward bending, resulting in decreased engagement of low back muscle groups.

Smaller Snow Shovel Blade Size Reduces Injuries

Choose a small blade shovel (10-14) as this will decrease the amount of snow lifted.If a smaller blade shovel is not available, use a larger blade shovel but only fill it half-full.

  • Avoid shovels that have a metal edge for added durability as they can catch on uneven surfaces such as interlocking bricks, cracked driveways and strain the shoulders, neck and back.
  • If snow is sticky, spray your shovel with Teflon or cooking oil or apply a layer of car wax.

Adjust Shovel Load to Type of Snow

Adjust the amount of snow shoveled depending on the type of snow, as the density drastically affects the weight. For wet or compacted snow is very heavy so you must reduce the shovel load and number of scoops per minute. For example, if an individual were to clear a 16ft by 30ft driveway covered in one foot of wet snow, they would move approximately four tons of snow!

Best Shoveling Technique

  • Do some stretching before you start shoveling.
  • Keep the shovel close to your body. Avoid twisting as you move the snow; reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be moved.
  • Avoid trying to throw snow too far in slippery conditions as it is easy to lose your balance.
  • Push snow away rather than lift it, especially when wet, or heavy. It is most efficient to push snow with a wider blade shovel and lift and throw with a smaller blade shovel. Push the snow from the center of the driveway to the sides and lift the snow from there.
  • Bend your knees, keep the back upright with the natural curve engaged, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with the powerful muscles of the legs. Scoop small amounts and walk to where you want to dump it.

Wear Anti-Slip Boots and Place Feet Carefully

  • Keep your feet hip width apart for balance.
  • Anti-slipping footwear/cleats may be beneficial to those who are prone to losing their footing or falling during winter months.
  • Look out for ice patches and uneven surfaces under the snow or on the ground that can cause you to slip and fall.

Shoveling Stairs

Stand below the step you are shoveling and pull the snow towards you. Repeat this until you reach the bottom step. This will give you adequate space to safely scoop and lift the snow.

Watch for Signs of a Heart Attack

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop shoveling and contact your physician immediately, or call 911.

  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Pain or sudden pain or discomfort that does not go away with rest. The pain may feel like: burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure and it may be referred to the left arm
  • The pain may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the left arm
  • In women, symptoms may be more diffuse

Important Note: A study in Detroit identified 43 heart attacks after a series of snowstorms. These heart attacks were all attributed to physical exertion, and 36 occurred while removing snow. Several of these heart attacks occurred while using a snow blower.

To Relieve Soreness or Pain After Shoveling

Some pain or soreness is normal. To relieve soreness or pain after shoveling, you can apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes, then remove it for a couple of hours. Repeat, if needed a few times each day over the next couple days. If muscle or joint pain persists see your primary care physician and chiropractor.

In summary, by choosing the right snow shovel and taking simple snow shoveling precautions you can minimize back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and prevent more serious injuries.


8:30am - 1:00pm
3:15pm - 6:00pm

3:15pm - 6:15pm

8:30am - 1:00pm
3:15pm - 6:00pm

8:30am - 1:00pm
3:15pm - 6:00pm

3:00pm - 6:00pm

Saturday & Sunday

Canton Dale Chiropractic

351 Turnpike St
Canton, MA 02021
P: (781) 821-0072
F: (781) 821-0071