Shoveling snow and your back

Winter is here and for some of us that means heaping amounts of snow. Before you know it those flurries will turn into two to four inches of snow. Next thing you know you have a mountain of snow to remove from your driveway and sidewalks. If you are in charge of shoveling the snow it can be a pain in the butt but also your back. The most common snow shoveling injuries are strains on your back.  

Shoveling snow can cause more trouble than people think. Research states that during the winter the most common emergency room visits are due to lower back pains from clearing snow. This activity can cause stains on your back muscles, leaving your back feeling stiff and painful.

When you’re shoveling you overwork your muscles which could lead to other common snow shoveling injuries like slipping on ice or getting hit by the shovel.  

What is a strain?

A strain is a kind of injury that forms on the muscle or tendon. If you have an ache in your back, usually it means your back’s muscles and tendons, that support your spine, have been twisted, pulled or torn. A strain will cause you aches and discomforts that can lead to major damage to your muscle and tendons.

When you shovel snow you are picking up the snow and moving it with a shovel over your shoulder. This motion will cause a strain on your back muscles. The repetitive movement could result in a chronic strain causing constant pain over time. This pain will grow worse with time if it’s not treated.

The symptoms of a strain  

After shoveling snow you might not feel all the symptoms right away. The symptoms will start to develop throughout your day. You could start to feel pain in other areas like your shoulders, elbows or legs. This pain will interfere with your daily activities causing your discomfort.

How do you know if you have a strained injury? You could feel some of these symptoms.

  • If you start to notice that your muscle feels like it doesn’t have enough strength.

  • Another major sign is if you start to feel an acute pain in the muscles of your back. Acute pain is a sharp and severe pain that lasts less than three to 6 months.

  • If a pain prevents your from moving or using a limp, is another major sign.

How to prevent strains

Since you can’t avoid shoveling your driveway or sidewalks the best way to prevent strains is by preparing yourself. Taking precautions while shoveling snow is necessary to prevent all those aches and pains. Strains are the most common snow shoveling injuries and you can avoid them by warming up and staying cautious. Here are other important preventions you can take.

  • It’s recommended to avoid shoveling in the mornings. Instead shovel later in the day.

  • Push the snow off the pavements rather than lifting it and throwing over your shoulder.

  • It would help if you should warmed up before you start shoveling.

  • Pace yourself and take breaks every five minutes.

Ignoring the pain will cause the pain to grow and get worse. Waiting too long will cause an injury to develop into a more serious one. If your back hurts after clearing your driveway or sidewalk, don’t hesitate and get professional help. Make an appointment with a chiropractor. A chiropractor will be able to alleviate the pain from the strains. Or if you have a muscle that is twisted a spinal manipulations can be your answer. It’s important to take the first steps and contacting an expert when you feel pain arise.



We’re Wisniewski Chiropractic, part of the Thrive Wellness network. Nearing our third year in our current location, we’re excited to continue bringing you personalized care and support for your wellness journey. Dr. Wisniewski is an expert in chiropractic care. We believe in healthcare that relies less on medication and more on  prevention through the use of proper diet, exercise and patient education. Our chiropractic services follow a three-part plan: relieve your pain first, address the root cause, and make a plan for your future wellness.