So many times you hear to “lift with your knees” when shoveling snow in order to protect your back. It’s a bit more complicated than that and really it’s better to lift with your hips. Here’s a great video by Dr. Scott Gillman that gives some great tips to shovel snow while protecting your back. It also makes a great and fun workout!(Yes, I used fun and shoveling snow in the same sentence.)

I broke down the steps below for you.

Shoveling Snow 1

Don’t round your back. This places a lot of strain on your back (especially the disc joints) It also will encourage you to lift with your back.

Shoveling Snow 2

Also, don’t round your back while twisting. Bending and twisting are the two motions that place your back at risk for disc bulging and herniations. You don’t want that.

Shoveling SNow 3

Instead bend at your hips while also bending at your knees. Try to keep the natural curve in your spine and your back as straight as you can. Essentially you are doing a squat. You can also tighten the muscles of your torso by thinking of being punched in the gut (breathe while you tighten your torso muscles). This will help you protect your back and keep the natural curve in your spine.

Shoveling Snow 4

Now lift with your hips. You can think of squeezing your butt muscles. Your knees will naturally straighten.

Shoveling Snow 5

If you need to throw the snow to the side or behind you don’t twist with your back. Instead, follow the next step.

Shoveling Snow 6

In the video Dr. Scott Gillman uses a great cue. Move Your Nose with Your Toes! This will encourage your back to be in a good neutral and strong position without twisting your back. The foot will step behind you bringing you into a new forward position. Move Your Nose with Toes!

Snow Shoveling 7

Now you have moved your body into a new forward position that brings the snow behind you. Successfully protecting your back with no twisting.

Snow Shoveling 8

If you need to push the snow hold the shovel in front of your belly and walk forward.

All Right! Now you’re all set to go out and shovel some snow! I hope this video helped you out. Let me know what you think in the comments below and share with your friends.

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Matthematt-squarew Snow is a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Greenwich, CT. If you would like to schedule or make an appointment call (203) 660-0584or email To learn more about Matt check out his About Page.