How To Properly Shovel Snow

Wednesday, December 19th 2007, 12:36 pm
By: News 9

Shoveling snow can be dangerous for anyone who takes on more than they can handle.  Each year thousands of snow shoveling related injuries are treated at hospitals, doctors' offices and clinics.  Someone shoveling snow is at risk of injuring their back, shoulders and wrists, even having a heart attack from overexertion. 

There are precautions you can take to properly remove snow and stay injury free.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following tips for safe snow shoveling:

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine or nicotine before shoveling snow. The stimulants can increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, placing extra stress on the heart.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Dress in several layers so you can remove layers as needed.
  • Warm up your muscles before shoveling. Warm muscles work more efficiently and lessen the chance of injury.
  • Use a snow shovel or snow pusher that feels comfortable for your height and strength. Avoid using a shovel that is too heavy or too long.
  • Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it, but if you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs, without bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovel full of snow with your arms outstretched puts
  • Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
  • When shoveling snow do not twist your body, instead use your legs to shift your weight, switching sides frequently.
  • Most importantly - listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain!