Shovel Snow Like an Athlete!

By: Dr Caitlin Davidson

I was hoping not to bring this up so soon, but in light of the recent weather changes and the upcoming holiday season it seems that it’s time to talk about snow shoveling.  For many of us living in apartments in Toronto this may seem like a non-issue but if you find yourself helping to dig a car out of the snow on a winter road trip visiting friends and family, please keep this tip in mind: treat snow shovelling like a workout.  

1.     Warm up first: Take 10 minutes to get blood pumping to your major muscle groups to prepare them for working in the cold, and to prepare your heart and blood vessels for the strenuous cardiovascular workout ahead.  Jumping jacks, squats, spider-man lunges, push ups... imagine you’re warming up for GETnFIT.  This is an incredibly important step because many people not only injure themselves, but even die of heart attacks while shoveling snow every year.  Share this tip with snow shovelers in your life!

2.     Straight Spine, Strong Core: No matter what your snow shoveling technique, it’s important to engage the core and maintain a neutral spine throughout, just like you do in all your workouts.  Ideally you want to avoid lifting and throwing snow, instead pushing it off to the side of the driveway so that you don’t load and twist your back (a.k.a. recipe for a disc herniation!)  If you must throw the snow, try to position yourself to throw it straight at the snow pile rather than off to your side or over your shoulder.  Also, try to frequently switch leading leg and dominant lifting arm to avoid repetitive strain injuries.  

3.     Use the Right Equipment: Boots with solid treads will give you steadier footing on a slippery driveway.  A lightweight, push-style shovel with a smaller blade will minimize strain on the body.  Dressing in layers will help you start off warm and allow for removal of a layer if you begin to overheat.  And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.  This is a workout after all!

4.     Cool Down Afterward:  Take time to bring your heart rate and respiratory rate back down to normal, and stretch stretch stretch.  Maybe even treat yourself to a yoga class afterwards.  

 I hope you use, and share, these snow shoveling tips this winter.  And if you do end up with a winter-related injury, consider seeking out the care of a chiropractor to get you back in fighting form.  If you have questions about a pain or injury you have, feel free to come chat with me before or after class. I love to talk about this stuff!


Dr. Caitlin Davidson, BSc (Hons), DC

Dr. Davidson graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 2016, while being co-president of the ICPA Pediatrics Club and teaching in a Senior’s Chair Yoga Program. In 2017 she also became a Certified Animal Chiropractor. She is a member in good standing with College of Chiropractors of Ontario. Dr. Davidson is passionate about helping your entire family live your healthiest, most balanced lives. And she loves to practice what she preaches, which is why you can catch her in all styles of classes at Yogathletix!