Surviving The Winter - Tips for Shoveling From Dr. Arpad Fejos

As the snow begins to pile up this winter, it is important to keep your back healthy while shoveling. Taking steps to prevent the on- set of pain will save you a lot of grief down the line. Making sure you have the proper equipment, footwear and technique all play a part in keeping your body safe and healthy. Use the following guidelines and know we are always here to help if you do injure yourself.


  • Always use a shovel with a curved handle or a shovel with an adjustable handle. These shovels will help mini- mize bending.
  • Never use a steel or heavy shovel. While steel might last the longest it will also be the heaviest. Choosing a plastic shovel or a snow pusher will decrease the load on your back.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear. Like wearing sneakers to the gym, wearing appropriate footwear to shovel will help prevent injury. Winter boots with good traction are important to give you the stability you need to move the snow. In icy conditions using snow spikes that go over your boots should be considered.
  • Always wear your back brace or other protective devices as prescribed by your physician.


  • Always stretch before starting. Shoveling is a workout. It will increase your heart rate and stress your muscles just like going to the gym. Proper stretching of your arms, neck, back and legs will go a long way to prevent in- juries.
  • Always keep proper hand placement. Hands should be kept 12 inches a part to maximize your leverage and re- duce the strain on your body.
  • Never pick up more then you can handle. The more snow in your shovel, the more stress will be placed on your back. Shovel in smaller loads. While it may take longer, your back will thank you later!
  • Avoid bending. When possible try to push the snow to the side instead of picking it up. If you have to bend to lift snow make sure you squat and lift with your legs, never bending at the waist.
  • Never Twist. Twisting or throwing snow over your shoulder will place heavy stress on your spine. Keep the shovel close to your body, pick up a small load of snow and walk it to where you want to drop it.
  • Always take frequent breaks. Shoveling all this snow is a workout. Taking frequent breaks and performing gentle stretching throughout the process will help your body recover better.
  • STOP if you experience pain of any kind.

Call 860.347.7636 for an appointment if you experience any pain during or after shoveling.

More about Orthopedic Associates of Middletown: Orthopedic Associates of Middletown, Connecticut (OAM) is dedicated to providing patients with quality, comprehensive and cost effective orthopedic healthcare. We strive to exceed the standard of care for Orthopedic Surgeons through our human, financial and physical resources. We provide each patient with the information necessary to understand their treatment options so they can make an informed decision - with the ultimate goal of each patient achieving the highest quality of life. OAM has three convenient office locations in Middletown, Westbrook, and Marlborough.

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