Great “Movement Hack” To Save Your Low Back Discs When Shoveling Snow (or anything else!)

Since we’re in the middle of getting our first good snowfall of the winter (about 10 inches or so) I thought I would re-post this video from a few years back talking about the CRITICAL importance of the “HIP HINGE” when you shovel snow, or dirt, or rocks, or even s*^t 🙂

It also applies ANYTIME you bend over.  

That includes vacuuming, sweeping, raking, getting your shoes out of the closet, unplugging your laptop, brushing your teeth, putting on makeup, anyway…you get the piture.

It’s SIMPLE but PROFOUND.  Please take this to heart…EVERY DAY!



  1. Hip hinge is great and I understand it. I also like a stiff center and I do that by pretending the dog next door is running at me and I have to brace myself (this happens all the time). But I do it by pulling my belly button toward my back. How else to you make a stiff center??

    • Hey Judy great question.

      Generally speaking it’s better to simply create pressure around your center with a “bearing down” feeling like a cough, sneeze, bowel movement (just make sure you have you pelvic floor muscles / kegel switched on).

      Instead of a “hollow”, use a brace. Hollowing is great for creating awareness of the hollowing muscles, but not ideal if your moving a heavy load or trying to protect yourself or recover from a unexpected movement.

      I went in depth into this hollow vs brace in a video inside the course. Since you’re a course student, you can access it at

  2. Yes, it can certainly be difficult, especially if you are not used to doing it that way, Kathy. When you continue doing it, you build endurance in the core system and it gets easier.

    Keep it up!

  3. Hi Dr Steve,

    as far as ‘hollowing’is concerned; your TvA will do that for you, unless your TvA timing is off,because of a too slow reflex function.
    so , as you mentioned in the video, bracing is the thing to do to get the abs / core activated, by being aware of your position / actions.

    great video in the snow !


    • yes, and the diaphragm connection to the fibers of the transverse abdominus tell us that good functional low breathing can help greatly to wake up the TvA

  4. Dr. Steve,

    This makes a lot of sense. I have been practicing a little bit of Yoga lately and have noticed that in some of the videos that I use online, the instructor bends her spine while stretching the legs and lower back. This causes discomfort, so I try to keep my spine straight by leading with the chest (not so easy). In your opinion, are these girls showing the stretch incorrectly?

    • That’s a great question, Jackie. If flexing your spine causes discomfort beyond a good stretch, then you may be dealing with some flexion intolerance / disc issues.

      I’m not going to say it’s “incorrect” to teach spinal flexion because it’s important to have good spinal mobility in all directions, including flexion.

      But it can certainly be overdone. And those with poor hip flexion (limited hip hinge because of tightness in hamstrings / hip capsule / etc.) will HAVE to use excessive spinal flexion to reach their toes or whatever their goal is.

      In that case…focus should be on hip mobility.

  5. this is so important. I have done exactly that. And I am nursing the problem now. doing core work and slow walking and elliptical. keep these suggestions coming. and don’t hesitate to repeat. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

  6. hello dr steve thank you for another awesome video as always, lately ive been watching your videos on breathing with the back brace, my question is do you engage the back brace all the time or is it only when you take a breath and inhale, also shoudl your ribs also expadn 360 dregrees or only ouy waist line between ribs and pelvis, thank you again dr hoffman i cant thank you enough your videos really hepled me alot.

  7. Returning to the stiff centre question at the top of the page. I do a little Pilates and the instruction is alway to pull the belly button towards the spine. What is your opinion about that please? I am unable to join the course so won’t get your recommended in depth instruction. Sincere thanks for all the helpful blog videos.

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