Snow Removal 101: tips and tricks to an injury free snow season with Dr. Kenton Thoms

Winter is here, and snow removal tasks, such as shoveling heavy snow or pushing a snowblower, can lead to injuries if not done correctly. When it comes to removing snow (especially heavy snow like this week’s), it's crucial to maintain proper body mechanics to avoid those injuries. Depending on if you use a shovel or snow blower, you may need to use different body mechanics but both are fairly similar and are important to remember. 


Like any other exercise, warming up with some light stretching can keep the muscles loose and well prepared for what’s to come. Engaging the core, keeping a neutral spine, and lifting with the legs with any heavy lifting but especially shoveling snow. Instead of twisting, pivot with your feet and face the direction you want to throw the snow. This can help prevent you from straining other muscles. If you can push the snow instead of lifting, then do so. Picking the correct length of shovel depending on your height can help maintain proper mechanics and posture while shoveling the snow. So if you’re taller (like me), get a longer shovel. Finally, take breaks or ask for help when you need to. No need to make it harder than it needs to be, and it’s definitely not a competition. 

Snow blowing:

Snow blowing can be less strenuous on the body at times, but can still be demanding. Stretching beforehand can go a long way for snow blowing as it can for shoveling. When you are using the snow blower, standing with good posture, slight bend in the knees, and with a shoulder width stance. This will help to keep good balance as you push the blower. Engaging your core and pushing with your whole body will prevent you from solely relying on your arms and will help generate more force. Keep in mind, it is also okay to take breaks or ask for help while using a snow blower as well. 

If you do experience any soreness or discomfort after snow removal, chiropractic care and massage therapy (like we have at Ames Spine and Sport) can aid in your recovery. Our licensed chiropractors can recommend specific exercises and stretches as well as utilizing modalities, muscle work, and adjustments for optimal care.  While massage therapists can help work out any sore muscles or inflammation you may experience post removal. Both can help alleviate muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. Utilizing chiropractic care or massage therapy can help you bounce back quicker and be prepared to conquer the next snow storm. But fingers crossed we are done with snow storms for the rest of winter!