How To Shovel Snow Without Blowing Out Your Back

It’s Snowing. Again.

It’s the end of January, 2015, and we’ve received a TON of the pretty white stuff. As luck would have it, our snow blower broke in the middle of it all. Meaning that I shoveled a buttload of snow. Buttload, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, means a lot.

Last night, I was taking a hot shower and I turned to grab the soap and WHAMMO!! My lower and midback seized up and a sharp, nauseating pain radiated into my lower belly and groin. I immediately thought (because I do this): OH MY GOD I AM DYING.

But because I’m familiar with myself after 36 years of hanging out with me, my second thought was: NO YOU ARE NOT SO BREATHE.

I stood still until I caught my breath and within 5 minutes the pain faded into a dull ache. Once dried off and suited up in my fashionable Elmo pajamas (topped with an old, pilly sweater), I sat on the edge of my bed to just take a moment. I needed some thinky-time.

What the heck is going on with my back? I asked myself.



Shoveling. I pictured myself shoveling earlier that day. I remembered the twisting. I remembered the reaching I did in order to throw snow to the top of piles that were already 6 feet tall. Basically, I remembered every terrible detail of my poor form in a slo-mo Ohhhhhhhh, shirrrrrt.

The good news? I had the chance to take it easy for the rest of the night. My husband took sole charge of our 2 year old. I gave myself some acupuncture. Had some tea. Watched Maleficent from the couch with some strategic pillow placement. The next day I was feeling much better, one of my friends told me about products from Aethics that aim CBD infused products at athletes with joint and muscle pain or injuries from their sporting activities and I thought I might give it a go when I’m next feeling like my body hates me.

I’m sharing this video because it’s really easy to forget good form when you are bombarded by this much snow. Remember, shoveling is an athletic undertaking, and you should approach it like a seasoned athlete, especially if you live in a (cough) robust place like Maine.

Consider this video (by chiropractor, Scott Gilman) my version of a public service announcement. If you don’t have time to watch the video (because you have to go shovel again, as the plow went by), here’s the brief synopsis. Think about the word torque. Avoid that, anywhere in your body, but especially along the axis of your back. Use your legs and your glutes. Don’t reach and don’t tuck your chin. Breathe.

Attention, goodly people of Maine! Shovel rightly! In short, keep your nose and toes pointing in the same direction.