News & Updates

Tips for how to shovel smart

Just when you think that you’ve moved out to Victoria to get away from the snow of Eastern Canada, think again.1

Enter: Snowmageddon!

Consequently, if you’re planning to leave your house in the next 24-48 hours to get to work, school or just do some general errands then its likely that you’ll have to do some shovelling. Here are some things to take care of to keep your spine safe as you brave the storm.

  1. Use salt or anti-ice methods to help reduce slippery surfaces. Kitty litter apparently works well.
  2. Sturdy winter appropriate boots can also cut down the risk of slips and falls.
  3. Get a lightweight sturdy shovel designed for snow-shoveling i.e. not your garden shovel/trowel. This will help keep the load distributed and avoid unnecessary shifts in balance that can add undue forces and further save your back.
  4. Sturdy standing: set your feet hip width apart to provide a good base of support and improve balance
  5. Keep it close: Shovel small amounts and keep the shovel/load close to your body to prevent over straining
  6. Smart grip: ensure your hands are comfortably spaced to help leverage. Too close and you sacrifice ability to move heavy loads with good balance, too wide and you struggle moving the weight. Find a grip that’s “mid-wide” where your hands are just outside shoulder width if your holding the shovel at a complete hang.
  7. Don’t skip leg-day: Use the knees to help save the back when getting low to fill the shovel.
  8. Engage the core: Squeeze your ribs down to tighten your stomach as you lift to help brace the spine and prevent strain.
  9. Don’t twist: Try to avoid twisting to offload snow. Instead move your feet to help you rotate into place.
  10. Place snow vs throw snow: Try to avoid throwing the snow, as appealing as it is to watch it fly, the explosive movement can impose a significant amount of force on the structures in your back. These forces multiply under fatigue.

Hopefully, during these snowy days these helpful tips can make a difference between making it out and about and forced hibernation. In any case, give them a try and let us know what you think.2


  1. It’s always a good time to take tips from the Toronto Paramedic Services.
  2. For more information visit: