Shoveling Mechanics

Winter. Some of us love it some of us hate it; but in a place like Bozeman it’s unavoidable. I think we can all agree that the shoveling that comes with the fluffy white stuff can be a pain. So since winter is upon us, here are some tips to keep in mind to help protect yourself from getting injured. The two most common shoveling related injuries are low-back strains and tennis elbow. 


Shoveling Snow.jpg

How to prevent injuries:

Lift with your knees. We hear this all the time, but what does it actually mean and why is it important? When you shovel you should think about getting yourself in a low squat position. First of all this will help protect your lower-back by allowing you to use the strength of your legs and not just your back. As you got to lift the snow using your legs to push yourself up instead of using your back to pull yourself up. Then as you go to toss the snow again use your whole body to help generate force instead of just your shoulders. Think about going from a squat and then extending through your legs to help propel the snow. It can also help to pick up smaller scoops of snow so it is lighter and as a result should be easier on your forearms.

Here are a few stretches to do after you shovel.

  1. Shoveling involves a lot of bending forward so do this stretch right after you finish your driveway.


Prone Press Up; Lay on your stomach with your hands right under your shoulder. Relax your lower back and hips and gently press yourself up putting a small arch in your back. Only go up as high as is comfortable.

Prone Press Up; Lay on your stomach with your hands right under your shoulder. Relax your lower back and hips and gently press yourself up putting a small arch in your back. Only go up as high as is comfortable.

2. After gripping the shovel for so long your forearms can get very sore, this stretch will help combat that.


Forearm flexion stretch: Straighten your arm out in front of you, keep your elbow straight and with your other hand gently bend your wrist and fingers until a gentle stretch is felt.

Forearm flexion stretch: Straighten your arm out in front of you, keep your elbow straight and with your other hand gently bend your wrist and fingers until a gentle stretch is felt.

-Kate Dolan, DPT

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