Shovel Smart. Enjoy Your Weekend!

Shoveling wet, heavy snow is an unusual winter chore for April…even in Maine. It can be both physically demanding and potentially hazardous because by April, you may be out of practice. At least in 2024 after one of the most mild winters we’ve had in a long time. Tomorrow’s storm is predicted to last 3 days. The weight of wet snow, combined with the repetitive motion and colder conditions, increases the risk of injury. With the right approach and precautions, you can effectively clear snow while minimizing the risk to your health. Here are some tips for shoveling wet, heavy snow safely and efficiently. I’ve been a chiropractor and acupuncturist here in Portland, Maine for over 22 years. I have a little bit of experience in this department…

 Choose the Right Equipment

Selecting the appropriate shovel can make a significant difference. Ergonomic shovels with curved handles help reduce the amount of bending you need to do, which can decrease strain on your back. Lightweight materials like plastic or aluminum reduce the overall weight you have to lift. Additionally, a shovel with a smaller blade will encourage you to lift less snow at a time, reducing strain. If you have a snowblower, use it. Snowblowers save backs. If you don’t have one, consider getting one for next winter.

 Warm Up Before You Start

Just like any physical activity, it’s important to warm up your muscles before you begin shoveling. Spend a few minutes doing light exercises, such as walking in place or stretching. Focus on your arms, legs, and back – the primary areas engaged while shoveling. If you don’t know how to warm up, watch the 5 minute workout below to get some ideas for a warmup!

Use Proper Technique

When shoveling, always lift with your legs, not your back. Keep your feet hip-width apart for stability, and bend at the knees. When lifting the shovel, keep it close to your body to reduce back strain. Avoid twisting your torso to throw the snow; instead, pivot your whole body to face the direction you’re moving the snow. This helps prevent torsional stress on your spine.

Pace Yourself

Shoveling wet, heavy snow is a strenuous activity. Take frequent breaks to prevent overexertion. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and rest. It’s better to tackle the job in smaller sections than to try to clear everything at once and risk injury.

Stay Hydrated and Dress Appropriately

Even in cold weather, it’s easy to become dehydrated while performing physical labor. Drink water before you start and take breaks to rehydrate as needed. Dress in layers so you can remove clothing if you start to overheat. Wear waterproof boots with good traction to prevent slips and falls. If you love beer, wait until after shoveling to relax with a cold one.

Clear Snow Early and Often

Try to shovel shortly after the snowfall ends, if possible. Fresh snow is lighter than snow that has had time to settle and compact. With this SNOWMAGEDDON  forecasted, consider clearing a few inches off the ground every few hours throughout the storm and then again after it has stopped. This approach reduces the amount of weight you have to move at one time.

 Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to the signals your body sends you. If you experience pain, especially in your back or chest, stop immediately. Muscle soreness is common after shoveling, but sharp pain can indicate an injury. If you have a history of heart trouble or back issues, consult with a doctor before shoveling, or consider hiring someone to do it for you.


Shoveling wet, heavy snow is a challenging but necessary task during the Southern Maine ‘nor easter of 2024 . By choosing the right equipment, using proper technique, and taking care of your body, you can get the job done without putting yourself at risk for injury. Remember, safety should always come first. If the job seems too daunting, there’s no shame in asking for help or hiring a professional. Stay safe and warm out there!

Dr. Lou Jacobs has been a chiropractor and acupuncturist in Portland Maine for over 23 years. Dr. Lou specializes in the care of great people. His passion is working with musicians and he has worked with some of the world’s most famous, including The Pixies, Steve Vai, Trey Anastasio, Gary Clark Jr., Mumford & Sons and many others. Dr. Lou has been interviewed for Guitar Player Magazine which was published in February, 2023. Dr. Lou is a Youtube influencer with a prolific channel with over 660 videos and over 126,000 subscribers. If you love music, dogs and feeling great, Dr. Lou is the chiropractor for you!