How to Protect Your Back While Shoveling

Shoveling and Back Care

Wisconsin winters can be filled with fun: sledding, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing or enjoying a fresh snowfall from under a warm blanket. But for some folks, shoveling can take the fun out of winter. It’s important to keep yourself safe while shoveling. Here’s a few tips that may help –

  • Clothing
    Before you go outside to start shoveling, put on a hat, gloves, scarf, warm jacket, winter boots and warm pants. If you tend to get to warm while shoveling, dress in layers so you can remove clothing if necessary. When the wind chill is intense, be sure to cover your ears, nose, hands and feet to prevent frostbite.
  • Technique
    If possible, it’s actually best to push the snow rather than lift it. If you have to lift the snow, remember proper back technique: bend your knees and keep your back straight. As you throw snow off your shovel, do not twist your body. Turn your body and throw the snow while keeping your back straight.
    Help your back stay healthy this winter season!
  • It’s not a Race!
    Pace yourself – there’s no need to have your driveway cleared first in your neighborhood. Use a smaller shovel to make your scoops lighter. You need to breathe normally throughout your shoveling.
  • Be in Tune with your Body
    If you find yourself becoming light headed, dizzy or nauseous, take a break. Go inside for a little while and come back out when you’re ready. Don’t push yourself. It’s always a good idea to let someone know that you are out shoveling in case of an emergency.
  • Snowblower Safety
    Keep your hands and clothing away from the blades of your snowblower. If you need to attend to the blades, shut the engine off completely before getting close. Keep your body parts and clothing away from the blades. Be especially mindful if you’re wearing a scarf so it doesn’t get pulled into the blades.
    Safety first!

Unity wants you to enjoy winter and keep your back healthy! If you are in need of back pain resources,please visit Unity’s Lower Back pain web page: Unity also offers health coaching for a variety of topics including back health. Please visit Unity’s health coaching web page:

    A mom and toddler playing in the snow

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