Shovel Safely with this Oncoming Snow Storm!

Have you ever paid attention to how you're shoveling the snow that falls on your driveway?

I want to help you avoid getting the post-shoveling back burn and ache using squats and a hip hinge. The hip hinge has so much potential power and is an amazing key to performing other basic movements, sparing your back.

Imagine you're unloading groceries from your car, and you're a 'one-trip grocery carrier'. You load up your arms and now you have to close that car door. Many of us already use a hip hinge to close that door: you bump it closed using your butt. The biggest key is keeping your back neutral, and it's also very difficult if you've been bending with your back for a long time. Below is a visual of the beginnings of a squat, starting with a hip hinge. Bending at the hips starts before bending at the knees.

Next, we move into the squat. A squat is a very primal and basic movement, but many people have difficulties performing it correctly or at all. Tight muscles or lack of motion in your joints can contribute to difficulty performing this move, as well as balance. Maybe you have a past injury that makes it difficult. If you're able to perform a squat please read on. Even if you can't squat, keep reading! In the video below, I'm holding a pole against my back to show a neutral spine. This is an amazing que to yourself and to anyone helping you learn to squat with good form. Keeping the movement in your hips, knees, and ankles will spare your back. You may need to practice this.

Spread your feet a comfortable distance apart. When you're outside in the snow or ice, do what is safe. Start hinging at the hips, then begin to bend at the knees and ankles keeping your weight above your feet. If you feel a lot of stress at your knees, you're likely shifting your weight forward too far. Once you're in the squat, to stand up, squeeze from your glutes (butt) and your thighs driving your hips  forward paying attention to keeping your back neutral. Activating your glutes is what drives coming out of that squat and hip hinge. See the demonstration below.

Now applying this to shoveling. Once you've gathered a shovel of snow: keeping your back neutral ,squat down focusing on using your thighs and butt. Grab the shovel handle close to the base, this shortens the lever making the load easier to manage. Carry the snow to your dump site and begin again.

To summarize the hip hinge and squat:

  1. Begin bending at the hips like you're going to bump a door closed.
  2. Bend at the knees and ankles keeping your spine neutral.
  3. To stand, push into your feet squeezing your glutes and thighs to drive your hips forward.

Abandon the days of hurting your back to move the snow! You can also apply these moves to the rest of your daily life to pick up objects from the floor. If you need help or have an injury you need addressed, book an appointment with me and we'll work through it. Be safe Minnesotans!

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The content contained in blog posts are for general information and advice and is not an establishment of a doctor-patient relationship. While we strive to bring you information based on evidence and from practice experience, please consider the information shared at your discretion.