Healthy Practices for Shoveling Snow

When you use these four tips for safe snow removal, you’ll avoid injury while getting in a total body workout:

1. Do warm up exercises before shoveling to reduce the likelihood of back stress. Since your muscles work better when warm, you should march or jog in place or do some knee raises to elevate your core temperature and increase your heart rate.

2. Use the “right” shovel or snow pusher. Your shovel should be ergonomically designed with lightweight polycarbonate blades and a bent, offset handle to make it easy to push the snow. You might want to consider purchasing a wheeled snow pusher.

3. Use the “right” technique. You should push, not lift the snow whenever possible. When lifting snow is necessary, follow these best practices to protect your back: Keep your feet shoulder width apart.

  • Bend your knees and keep your back flat as you scoop and lift the snow.
  • Keep the load close to your body with your hands at least 12” apart on shovel.
  • Turn your body toward the spot you will dump the snow.
  • Do not throw the snow over your shoulder to eliminate stress on your spine.

4. Pace yourself. Shoveling is more like a marathon than a sprint so maintain a slow, steady tempo to avoid fatiguing the core muscles that protect your back. Shovel for five minutes and then take a 30 second break. Do some back bends and shoulder rolls periodically to help reduce spinal stress.

Happy Winter!