By Amy DeYoung
Updated Dec 15, 2022
A winter wonderland is a stunning sight. However, you must deal with the snow that remains after a winter storm before it becomes a dangerous slipping hazard. Clearing snow may not seem harmful at first glance, but it can lead to low back pain, high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, and other health problems.
Fortunately, following some essential snow shoveling safety tips can reduce your risks.
Yes, snow shoveling can be dangerous. In fact, there may be as many as 100 deaths and thousands of injuries from snow shoveling each year. Snow shoveling increases your risk of injury and even fatality, which may occur from hypothermia, a bad fall, or a heart attack.
You may want to think twice about shoveling snow if you have the following risk factors:
If you have one or more of these risk factors, consult your doctor about whether snow shoveling is safe. A snow blower or electric snow shovel are also good alternatives to manual snow shoveling techniques.
Prompt snow removal is crucial to prevent falls and injuries. Keep reading to learn about our top shoveling tips for removing snow safely.
Before beginning, drink plenty of water. We’re just as prone to dehydration during cold temperatures as we are in warm temperatures, and the physical exertion required to push snow from walkways only increases these risks.
Likewise, stretch your muscles and warm up before beginning to reduce your risk of lower back pain. Take breaks during extensive or heavy snow shoveling to give yourself a chance to catch your breath and assess your physical condition.
We also recommend waxing the shovel blade to increase the material’s slipperiness, reducing how much snow will stick. To achieve this effect, you can cover it with floor wax, car wax, candle wax, or cooking spray. Lastly, wear slip-resistant shoes or boots, or add traction to your shoes with slip-on ice cleats.
After stretching, check your form and shoveling technique to ensure you’re not putting additional strain on your back.
Always bend your knees but lift with your legs. Place your feet about hip width for optimal balance. Monitor yourself as you lift the snow and double-check that the shovel blade stays close to your body. Tighten your stomach muscles so your core supports your body as you lift.
In addition, we recommend that you keep your tosses low. There is no need to lift the snow shovel higher than necessary to clear it. Never twist your body as you lift. Keep your back straight and steady during the motion.
If you feel pain at any time, immediately stop.
Shoveling snow is exhausting, especially if you’re not used to sudden exertion. To reduce this strain, alternate your hands’ positions on the snow shovel so that you’re working different muscles. Changing your grip by placing your palm under the bar will also reduce strain on those muscles.
Another great way to reduce strain is choosing an ergonomic snow shovel that is the right size for your body. Depending on your physical strength, you may want a smaller snow shovel. While it may carry less snow, it’ll put less strain on your back. It’s better to complete more reps with less stress on the body than to do fewer reps and risk seriously injuring yourself because you lifted too much snow at once.
Likewise, if the snowfall is heavy and deep, don’t try to lift it all at once. Skim the top half off and then return to the pile and scoop the remaining bottom inches.
Work smarter, not harder. Here are a few tips to increase your efficiency and reduce your risk of injury in the process:
Never shovel snow without a plan, the proper tools, and a good warm-up to reduce your risk of injuries. If you feel exhausted or notice any signs of a heart attack, seek a doctor to assess yourself. A clear driveway is not worth damage to your physical health, so seek other alternatives if you can’t remove the snow safely yourself.