Snow Shoveling1

Life Hack: How To Shovel Without Injury


In respect to one of the forecasts of impending blizzard doom a couple weeks ago, I posted in our private Hurst Strength Facebook group that I better not hear of any unnecessarily sore or hurt lower backs after shoveling.  Although I said it in a playful context, I was more so serious.

At Hurst Strength, we place a significant premium on movement quality, getting our bodies to feel awesome and be resilient.  What this means, is that before we start training with weights, we ensure that the body is working as a unit, smoothly and with integrity. Instead of poorly executed reps, we make sure that proper, safe positions can be reached and sustained.  We need to be able to control our bodies without them taking the path of least resistance and compensating, allowing form to break down during exercise.  These compensations decrease training results and skyrocket risk for injury, aches and pains.

We hammer good technique because we don’t just lift weights to look and feel good, we lift because it makes us a heck of a lot better at life outside the gym…and well, shoveling, the focus of this article.

The stronger you and your ability to control your own movement are, the less likely you are to get injured while doing simple chores like shoveling, or bending over to pick up a laundry basket.  So without further ado…


Most of the injuries that result from shoveling are caused by repetitively bending, rotating and/or twisting through the lower back while carrying a heavy load.  We certainly wouldn’t move like that in the gym, so let’s think of snow shoveling as an exercise and make sure we are using proper mechanics to get the job done.

how to shovel

Pic #1: “Hinge” back at the hips and maintain good core stability by bracing your abs as if someone is going to punch you in the belly and do not allow your back to round. Load your weight backwards onto your hips rather than your lower back and keep your chest up.

Pic #2: Lift the snow using your legs (and glutes), pivot and drive through your hips keeping your hips and shoulders square at all times. Keep the load as close to your body as possible by grabbing the shovel lower and with a wider grip.

Pic #3: DO NOT imitate this picture by twisting through your lower back, letting your hips and shoulders go in opposite directions and throwing the snow over your shoulder. I didn’t even intentionally cave my right knee in, that just happened consequently. Not a good scenario!

I also suggest warming up before hand – anything to elevate body temp and heart rate. And using an actual shovel, not a PVC pipe.

If all else fails, just grab yourself a pair of these:

shovel shoes

Enjoy the snow!


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